The Environmental Protection Agency closed the 90-day comment period for its New Source Performance Standards earlier this week. EPA proposed the rule in late March under a settlement agreement with a coalition of states and environmental groups that sued the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. EPA proposed an emissions cap of 1,000 lbs/MWh for new fossil fuel-fired units, a rate roughly on par with that of an unmitigated natural gas combined cycle unit. This week, the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a group of power companies, said the proposed rule has “substantial legal shortcomings” in its current form and faulted the agency for treating gas-fired power as the standard of performance for other fossil fuel-fired facilities. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy, on the other hand, said that it is overall satisfied with the proposal. “In evaluating EPA’s proposal, the Council applauds the Agency for adopting an output-based approach, whereby the emissions limit is set based on units of pollution relative to the useful output of both heat and electricity,” the group’s comment said. EPA has not yet set a date for when it plans on finalzing the standards, but it is not expected to do so until after the November election.
ON THE INTERNATIONAL FRONT
Developers of a controversial carbon capture and storage project in Scotland dropped their proposal this week, citing funding issues. Peel Holdings, the company behind the Ayrshire Power Project in Scotland, withdrew its planning application for the venture, subsequently cancelling its bid for funding under the U.K.’s CCS demonstration competition. Ayrshire Power Project Director Muir Miller said Peel decided to abandon the project mostly due to economic and funding uncertainties. “Whilst we believe we have a strong case to succeed in the planning inquiry, we cannot proceed with the significant risk that the current power station design and fuel mix could not be funded and built in the necessary timetable following the grant of consent,” he said in a statement. Peel was looking to build a new 1,852 MW carbon capture plant near the current Hunterston power station in southwest Scotland at a cost of £3 billion ($4.7 billion). However, the project faced particularly strong opposition due to the fact that the facility would have initially captured only 22 percent of its CO2 emissions. As a result, the project garnered more than 22,000 objections that were sent to the Scottish government.
An arbitration committee in Germany approved compromise legislation this week paving the way for CCS technology to be tested in the country, Reuters reported. On what was reportedly a close vote, the committee, which has been assembling in closed-door meetings for more than six months to no avail up until this point, voted to approve a regulatory framework for CO2 transport and storage within the country. Germany was required to transpose the framework last summer under a European Union directive, but political gridlock held up the proposal for months. The compromise agreement must now be greenlighted by both chambers of the country’s parliament, where it is not guaranteed that it will be able to garner enough political support. Grassroots political campaigning in recent years has turned public opinion largely against carbon capture and storage in many areas of the country. The compromise allows individual states to opt out of test projects, the wire service reported. The Swedish utility Vattenfall opted to terminate its Jänschwalde project, Germany’s last remaining large-scale CCS plant, last December due to a lack of progress on the regulatory framework, as well as deteriorating public acceptance of the technology.