November 12, 2015

Oopsy | Beckley Register-Herald

For months now, the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have ignored the cries of two dozen or more states avowing that the Clean Power Plant rules are too damaging on too many levels to be practically enacted.

The rules force states to develop plans to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 32 percent by 2030. EPA says this goal can be accomplished by reducing or eliminating coal-based energy generation.

Because those cries are falling on deaf ears, we have to acknowledge those who continue to seek other ways to defeat — or at least to temper — the EPA plan.

We ask Sen. Joe Manchin to step forward.

Earlier this week Manchin sent a three-page letter (that also included another 2-½ pages of footnotes) to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy that not only blasts the rules, but also points out a very good reason to delay, if not abandon, their implementation.

It seems, according to Manchin, that the standards are based on a presently failing Canadian carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project.

Well! That certainly sounds like a serious flaw to us.

In the letter, Manchin points out the EPA has indicated its final rule for all new coal-fired power plants in the U.S. is based largely off the perceived success of the Boundary Dam CCS Project, a still-developing CCS power plant.

In the final rule, the agency asserted that “The Boundary Dam facility has been operating full CCS successfully at commercial scale since October 2014.”

Not so fast, my friend, as sports commentator Lee Corso is fond of saying.

Manchin notes that based on recent Canadian news reports that have been acknowledged by the plant’s management, it is now evident that the Boundary Dam has failed to operate successfully at full CCS for any meaningful period of time.

The senator says he thinks that this substantially undermines the EPA’s final regulation for CO2 emissions, as the full CCS unit on this project served as the fundamental basis for the EPA’s reasoning.

Given the problems that plant is experiencing, it is now not forecast to be fully operational until the end of next year. And it will need at least a year of stable operation to prove its viability. Hence, the operating company cannot know for sure if the project is a success until at least the end of 2017.

We wonder what the EPA’s take on Manchin’s musings will be. It seems to us that the senator is really on to something.

“If a standard is impossible to meet for a minimum of 12 months of sustained commercial operation, then it is unreasonable to impose that standard on our people,” he wrote to McCarthy.

He recommends that the EPA scrap this impossible-to-meet rule, or at least amend it to require advance technology that has actually been implemented.

Sounds like good advice to us, but we doubt that the EPA, McCarthy or the president will be in a mood to listen. They are so all-in on these Clean Power Plan rules that they won’t admit to mistakes even if they are staring them in the face.

Nevertheless, kudos to Sen. Manchin for thinking on his feet and challenging the big dogs when it counts. West Virginia is lucky to have him in its corner.

By:  Editorial