Arizona sues EPA over “absurd” coal emission rules

posted at 4:31 pm on February 4, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

To paraphrase Herman’s Hermits: Second term, same as the first?  The latest front in the war on coal has shifted far from the mines which produce the raw materials for energy production, and to a state known for its contentious relationship with the Obama administration.  Arizona has filed suit against the EPA over new rules that it calls “absurd,” and which will drive up energy costs for little practical purpose (via The Right Scoop):

Arizona challenged in federal court U.S. environmental regulators efforts to force Arizona power companies to spend up to $1 billion to install pollution control equipment at three coal plants to reduce haze in the region’s national parks.

Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne said in a statement last week the emission control measures proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would not affect health or be reduce emissions visible to the human eye.

“This is an absurd action that would significantly raise utility rates for most Arizonans without providing any benefit to anyone,” Horne said in a statement. … “This attempt by the EPA has nothing to do with ensuring clean air and everything to do with trying to eliminate coal as a source of electricity,” Horne said.

At issue in the new rules, proposed in December, is nitrogen oxides.  The EPA claims that the emissions of nitrogen oxides by coal plants in Arizona creates “haze” in the Grand Canyon and other national parks.  They are therefore claiming jurisdiction over Arizona’s coal plants, and will demand the installation of very expensive upgrades or a shutdown of the plants.  With the price tag at $1 billion, the inevitable outcome will be a shutdown.

That will kill 40% of Arizona’s power, however, and not just Arizona.  California buys plenty of excess power from Arizona, which will either have to get a lot more expensive for consumers in both states, or less power will be available.  That could mean that Los Angeles will see shortages, for instance, or that California will have to start encouraging a lot more production in the state.

A big reduction in electricity will also impact the water supply, or at least the prices to bring it to market.  It may also damage the economic standing of the Navajo nation:

The EPA recommended the owners of the 2,250-MW Navajo coal plant in Arizona install equipment to reduce haze in national parks that could cost as much as $1.1 billion.

Navajo produces power used to deliver drinking water to consumers for the Central Arizona Project Water in the state’s two largest cities, Phoenix and Tucson, among other things.

Horne warned if the EPA forces Navajo to shut, power prices for the Central Arizona Project Water would increase by at least 20 percent.

If the EPA attempts to make water more expensive and/or scarce, you can bet that Arizona is going to fight that for as long as they possibly can.  The war on coal continues in the regulatory adventurism of the EPA, and we can expect another four years of it unless the states can defeat it in court.

Update: The US Chamber of Commerce produced a report critical of the EPA’s efforts to open a new regulatory front on “regional haze” last year.  Its conclusion:

In discussions with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, EPA has indicated that it will press for $250 million in “double dip” controls, specifically SCR technology. As is seen in the Minnesota Case Study later in this paper, EPA’s preferred RAVI controls would achieve an imperceptible benefit in visibility improvement. The Minnesota example makes clear that there is no refuge from EPA’s visibility regulations.

In the long term, EPA’s abuse of its Regional Haze authority could present a persistent problem for all states. Under its rules, states must revise their Regional Haze implementation plans every 10 years, until the nation’s ambient air is returned to natural conditions (which is to say, forever). If EPA’s regional haze power grab is allowed to stand, then the agency would have assumed an enormous new source of authority, with which it could effectively impose whatever controls it wants once every decade.

It is thus imperative for states to act now to check EPA on Regional Haze, thereby preserving the structure established by Congress and ensuring the balance of environmental federalism.

I understand they will have more on this tomorrow.  Stay tuned.


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Remember this? He’s just keeping his promise.

nazo311 on February 4, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Thank you Arizona. That makes my visit next month all the more worth it.

nobar on February 4, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Obama always wanted to increase energy prices.

Wake up fools!!!

Schadenfreude on February 4, 2013 at 4:37 PM

The EPA seems to be getting sued A LOT recently.

Jabberwock on February 4, 2013 at 4:37 PM

The fact that the House doesn’t even consider tying the purse string on EPA screams “one party system” to everyone with ears and a brain. It would be a very easy move, and one that would buy Republicans a lot of love from everyone who drives or uses heating.

Archivarix on February 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Well AZ get in line with TX and many other states taking the gosh horrible epa to court! It seems that the epa is not doing all that great in court though?

The epa has got to be de-funded or done away with, they have cost states billions upon billions in their krap regulations and jobs!

Good luck AZ, I hope you getter done for your state!
L

letget on February 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Hey, Arizona. Nice little state you have there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.

trigon on February 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

SSDD

RedInMD on February 4, 2013 at 4:39 PM

man this guy doesn’t care who or what he destroys does he?

DanMan on February 4, 2013 at 4:40 PM

The EPA seems to be getting sued A LOT recently.

Jabberwock on February 4, 2013 at 4:37 PM

They don’t give a flying fock as long as it is EPA being sued for mere reversal, instead of its employees for treble damages.

Archivarix on February 4, 2013 at 4:40 PM

We have to punish our enemies – Arizona is on the (very long) list.

CorporatePiggy on February 4, 2013 at 4:41 PM

OT, hey Ed, is anyone working on the Ron Paul opening his piehole in regards to Chris Kyle’s murder? I would have asked via Tips but the linky is no longer on the homepage. Just sayin.
Saving it for after dinertime? Hit bonanza for the PM?

D-fusit on February 4, 2013 at 4:43 PM

If the Navajo generating station is shut down, there will be a large number of local Navajo tribe members without a job, as their Black Mesa coal mine provides the coal for the plant. It would be a huge loss for the people in that region. (Over $50 million in 2012)

Why does the EPA hate the Native Americans?

Hill60 on February 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM

Elections have consequences. This is what he said he’d do, and he’s doing it.

BTW, CA doesn’t care if coal closes; the state has mandate an absurd percentage of electricity be generated by renewables by 2013 or 2014. They’d have to stop buying it anyway.

Nessuno on February 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM

This administration has to be most sued of all time.

And yet it continues to ignore the courts, unless the court rules in its favor. It ignores Constitutional law when it pleases, and creates powers out of thin air when it feels like it.

We are certainly post-constitutional now.

BobMbx on February 4, 2013 at 4:52 PM

The fact that the House doesn’t even consider tying the purse string on EPA screams “one party system” to everyone with ears and a brain. It would be a very easy move, and one that would buy Republicans a lot of love from everyone who drives or uses heating.

Archivarix on February 4, 2013 at 4:38 PM

I think its pretty evident that after the “Roberts” decision that stuck us with Obamacare, we already have a One-party system that is playing its bosses, “We the people”, for dupes. Seemingly they are right.

famous amos on February 4, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Do you think Karl Rove agrees with this move by AZ?

Mr. Arrogant on February 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM

How about Arizona just occupy the Grand Canyon NP, and return it to the rightful ownership of the state. If the western states would take back the lands unlawfully occupied by the federal government, that would go a long way to eliminating issues like these.

djtnt on February 4, 2013 at 4:55 PM

How about challenging the constitutionality of the EPA. Make them cite from where in Constitution the federal government derived the authority to create the EPA in the first place. Don’t accept the premise that it is a constitutionally authorized bureaucracy. Go for the throat.

Charlemagne on February 4, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Obama The Destroyer.

TarheelBen on February 4, 2013 at 4:57 PM

In the mean time, Congress sits on the sidelines.

GarandFan on February 4, 2013 at 5:03 PM

I see that Mavericky John McCain is going to bat for his state and his constituents by publicly excoriating the EPA and submitting a bill to stop this rule … Oh wait he’s busy some really important sh!t like tweeting about Iran’s monkey president astronaut and immigration.

Luckily AZ has it’s other Senator, Jeff Flake, taking on the EPA over this egregious assault on the state’s economy and the public’s access to clean drinking water …. oh wait, Flakes too busy to do anything on that because he’s huddles with McCain and the rest of the Gang of Eight on immigration.

Dusty on February 4, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Charlemagne the dems intentionally relegated their legislative authority to the EPA as a way to hide from the damage they will cause. The first hint was the insistence to defend carbon dioxide as a pollutant. Bush had refused to allow that by executive order and Obama immediately revoked that. They have been on a tear ever since.

DanMan on February 4, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Google Chrome just told me this site has malware. Anyone else getting this? I hear Breitbart had the same thing happen.

squint on February 4, 2013 at 5:13 PM

All these lawsuits are just continuous income streams for lawyers…..provided by taxpayers as usual.

Ditkaca on February 4, 2013 at 5:20 PM

The EPA claims that the emissions of nitrogen oxides by coal plants in Arizona creates “haze” in the Grand Canyon and other national parks.

I freely admit, I am no chemist… hopefully one of our resident scientific minds learned in the field of chemistry can provide education on the matter…

I’m quite sure nitrogen and oxygen are the two most abundant components of our atmosphere. So is the EPA somehow upset that we are spewing… err… air… into our… ummm… air? Inquiring minds want to know.

gravityman on February 4, 2013 at 5:21 PM

The EPA claims that the emissions of nitrogen oxides by coal plants in Arizona creates “haze” in the Grand Canyon and other national parks.

I freely admit, I am no chemist… hopefully one of our resident scientific minds learned in the field of chemistry can provide education on the matter…

I’m quite sure nitrogen and oxygen are the two most abundant components of our atmosphere. So is the EPA somehow upset that we are spewing… err… air… into our… ummm… air? Inquiring minds want to know.

gravityman on February 4, 2013 at 5:21 PM

I’m actually surprised the EPA didn’t include dihydrogen monoxide in their list of deadly chemicals that must be eradicated. That stuff causes far more damage and deaths than nitrogen oxides.

dentarthurdent on February 4, 2013 at 5:38 PM

What happens if states start ignoring these obvious political decisions?

birdwatcher on February 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM

They aren’t pro-environment: they are anti-human.

ajacksonian on February 4, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Mt. St. Helens better not erupt again or the EPA will try to shut it down, too. Morons.

College Prof on February 4, 2013 at 5:55 PM

What happens if states start ignoring these obvious political decisions?

birdwatcher on February 4, 2013 at 5:53 PM

I’d like to see some state go all Oklahoma on the EPA and start jailing any feds that try to enforce EPA regs…

affenhauer on February 4, 2013 at 6:18 PM

What do you expect from an agency that designates water as a pollutant?

And what exactly is wrong with haze? The Indians in the Los Angeles basin 500 years ago called it the Valley of Smoke because the smoke from campfires lingered in the basin.

PattyJ on February 4, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Re Chrome: I was getting those messages to and unresponsive script on mozilla, so I logged off my gmail account and it seems to have helped.

Why is Google wrecking the internet?

PattyJ on February 4, 2013 at 6:45 PM

And what exactly is wrong with haze? The Indians in the Los Angeles basin 500 years ago called it the Valley of Smoke because the smoke from campfires lingered in the basin.

PattyJ on February 4, 2013 at 6:41 PM

And the front range of Colorado has had hazy skies reported going all the way back to the 1800s – from dust being blown off the mountains – no human pollution necessary.

dentarthurdent on February 4, 2013 at 6:54 PM

CA’s renewable energy production requirement will make the rolling black-outs of the Gray Davis era the Good Times.

Another Drew on February 4, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Its time to just say “no”.

You guys install this billion dollar pollution stuff or else close down.

Response: No

You guys stop utlizing natural resources on any land the feds claim for any purpose whatsoever.

Answer: No

Hey Americans, turn in your guns, your magazines, your bullets and allow us to take care of you.

We say: No

Its well past time for the States and the Citizens to just say “NO” to an out of control Federal Government.

Fatal on February 4, 2013 at 7:02 PM

gravityman on February 4, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Nitrogen is an element, oxygen is an elements and the various NOx’s are compounds with different properties. High temperatures during combustion (vehicles, power plants) trigger chemical reactions combining N2 with O2 to make NO and NO2. Both those compounds in high concentrations contribute to haze. The problem is that reducing them isn’t going to change the level of haze in Arizona National parks. I live in NE Arizona and it is hazy most of the time. The major contributor is the wind blown dust in the air. No way to reasonably reduce the dust w/o violating other EPA rules since much of Arizona is desert. Deserts plus high winds equal dust in the air.

chemman on February 4, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Fatal on February 4, 2013 at 7:02 PM

It’s been time for a long time. Administrations of both hues have grown the federal government so far outside the scope of its original purpose it is time to start invoking nullification.

On a large scale.

CorporatePiggy on February 4, 2013 at 8:01 PM

California buys plenty of excess power from Arizona, which will either have to get a lot more expensive for consumers in both states

…so, charge California consumers double!

KOOLAID2 on February 4, 2013 at 8:32 PM

The “Navaho” power plant in Page, Arizona, is practically a Navaho tribal enterprise, along with an associated coal strip mine at Black Mesa.

It would seem our first African-American president is waging green economic warfare on Native Americans.

kd6rxl on February 4, 2013 at 10:02 PM

kd6rxl on February 4, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Yes but I would bet they voted for him not unlike the coal miners on the East coast.

MHatch on February 5, 2013 at 12:42 AM

On February 29, 2012, GenOn Energy said it will close seven of its coal generating stations by 2015, citing impending environmental regulations. This included Portland, with a proposed closure date of January 2015.[1] (SourceWatch)
Portland is near my home. New Jersey is affected also. I do not know of any plans of PA or Nj to sue. My electricity is going up now. I switched to FirstEnergy from MetEd to a reduced electricity rate guarantee for 2 years.We are screwed.

OldPatriot on February 5, 2013 at 10:54 AM