Texas Claims Unfair Regulation in Lawsuit Against EPA
The CEO of the state’s electric grid operator told Texas lawmakers Thursday that, if the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule was in place this year, Texas would have experienced a few days of rotating outages this summer. Trip Doggett, CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, told the House State Affairs Committee the said in the best case scenario, Texas would still have less power than it does now.
“Based on the assumption that their implementation plans would work, we would expect approximately 3,000 megawatts less of generation during the off months: March, April, October, November; and approximately 1,200 to 1,400 megawatts of reduced generation during peak months,” said Doggett.
Under an early draft of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Texas was only required to cut emissions of nitrogen oxide during ozone season, but in July, the EPA notified Texas it would also be required to cut sulfur dioxide emissions. Old coal plants had a choice: add scrubbers to reduce emissions, burn a cleaner low-sulfur coal, buy “credits,” or generate less energy. Dallas-based power company Luminant has become the poster child Texas officials are using to argue their side. CEO David Campbell told lawmakers that Luminant would have to close three lignite mines in East Texas and idle two old plants in need of retrofits. Doing this would eliminate 400 to 500 jobs.
“The compliance plan that we will implement includes investing close to $300 million by the end of next year to help reduce emissions as much as we can in this short time frame. Unfortunately, that won’t be enough,” said Campbell. “Closing mines and idling plants are the last steps we want to take, but without changes to the rule and its timeline, they are steps that we will have to take.”
Campbell said he’s for reducing emissions, but not this quickly. The LCRA, which operates the Fayette coal plant in La Grange, said it’s well-positioned to comply with the new rule. Scrubbers were installed this year and the plant burns a lower-sulfur coal from Wyoming, as suggested by the EPA.
State Representative Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, chastised officials from the Public Utility Commission, the TCEQ and ERCOT who testified against the rules. He said some of their arguments made sense, but they’d get more traction if they mended fences with the EPA.
“Talking about those people or any of those things where the language is inflammatory, because if we just stick to the facts, will be fine. The facts are on our side,” said Gallego.
Congress is due to take up a Republican-backed House Bill on Friday that could block the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, but President Obama has threatened to veto it.