Court stops costly EPA rules, but Nevada has already taken the leap

The Supreme Court today stopped the EPA from imposing strict limits on power plant emissions, mostly from coal-fired plants, because it failed to take into account the cost would hugely exceed any potential benefits.

But Nevada’s lawmakers have already jumped off this cliff, deciding to shut down all the state’s coal-fired power plants no matter what the cost to ratepayers and the economy.

Writing for the 5-4 majority today, Justice Antonin Scalia found the EPA acted unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to its regulations. He noted that the EPA claimed it had the power to act even if its rules caused more damage to the environment than they prevented.

“In accordance with Executive Order, the Agency issued a ‘Regulatory Impact Analysis’ alongside its regulation,” Scalia wrote. “This analysis estimated that the regulation would force power plants to bear costs of $9.6 billion per year. The Agency could not fully quantify the benefits of reducing power plants’ emissions of hazardous air pollutants; to the extent it could, it estimated that these benefits were worth $4 (million) to $6 million per year. The costs to power plants were thus between 1,600 and 2,400 times as great as the quantifiable benefits from reduced emissions of hazardous air pollutants.”

I wonder if that ratio could be applied to cost of SB123, which was passed by the 2013 Nevada Legislature? If I recall correctly, one of the arguments in support of SB123 was that the EPA would eventually shut down coal plants anyway.

Twenty-one states did not cave in, but successfully sued to stop the EPA rules. Hold onto your wallets, Nevadans, we are about to pay the price.

Reid Gardner power plant. (R-J file photo by Gary Thompson)

 

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15 comments on “Court stops costly EPA rules, but Nevada has already taken the leap

  1. Can’t we just reverse the Reid-Gardner deactivation project ? With my engineering and manufacturing background, this project isn’t that tough. Harry Reid wont be there to stop us anymore.

  2. Three of the four units at Reid Gardner were shut down in December 2014 and the other unit is scheduled for retirement at the end of 2017. Also, the power company is negotiating termination of its 248 MW ownership interest in the Navajo plant.

    In anticipation of companies exiting the power company, AB 498 gives the PUC authority to determine when it needs to build more capacity so it doesn’t overbuild as SB123 would have required.

  3. Rincon says:

    Daily KOS claims that the EPA estimate of health benefits was $33 billiion, while Thomas says they claimed only $4-6 million. Any explanation for this tiny discrepancy or is it just a case of Liberals and Conservatives making the wildest claims imaginable in order to bolster their cases?
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/06/29/1396656/-Supreme-Court-rejects-EPA-s-regulation-of-power-plants-emissions-of-mercury-and-other-toxins?detail=email

    Part of the explanation: One assumption Thomas’ figure is clearly making is that small exposures to mercury cause no brain issues (It is obvious that if millions of peoples’ brains were affected, then damage would be way over $6 million). There is no evidence that Thomas’ assumption is correct. There is also no evidence that very small exposures cause brain issues either. Thomas’ figure makes the bald and unproven assumption of no damage whatsoever, but fails to inform the reader of this assumption. The Liberals are generally guilty of the same deck stacking in the opposite direction. No wonder they can’t agree. They make up their own versions of reality.

  4. Yeah the Daily Kos is a real unbiased scientific source…ya think?

  5. That figure is what the EPA gave SCOTUS.

    “the Agency issued a ‘Regulatory Impact Analysis’ “

  6. Rincon says:

    Let me clarify Brien. My point was not that Kos was accurate, but that one cannot trust them nor Thomas’ figure because each gave a grossly slanted view.

    From the Opinion of the Court: “The Agency could not fully quantify the benefits of
    reducing power plants’ emissions of hazardous air pollu

    tants; to the extent it could, it estimated that these bene

    fits were worth $4 to $6 million per year.
    Ibid.
    The costs
    to power plants were thus between 1,600 and 2,400 times
    as great as the quantifiable benefits from reduced emis

    sions of hazardous air pollutants. The Agency continued
    that its regulations would have ancillary benefits—
    including cutting power plants’ emissions of particulate
    matter and sulfur dioxide, substances that are not covered
    by the hazardous-air-pollutants program. Although the
    Agency’s appropriate-and-necessary finding did not rest on
    these ancillary effects,
    id.,
    at 9320, the regulatory impact
    analysis took them into account, increasing the Agency’s
    estimate of the quantifiable benefits of its regulation to
    $37 to $90 billion per year,
    id.,
    at 9306”

    Kos conveniently left out the $4-6 million figure. Thomas conveniently left out the $37 to 90 billion figure. Never expect extremists to tell the whole story. They leave out anything that’s inconvenient.
    .

  7. Steve says:

    “They make up their own versions of reality.”

    Sometimes you really come up with some nuggets of gold, Rincon. I bet this one is not very close to your political heart, which left room for objective thinking.

  8. iShrug says:

    “I wonder if that ratio could be applied to cost of SB123, which was passed by the 2013 Nevada Legislature? If I recall correctly, one of the arguments in support of SB123 was that the EPA would eventually shut down coal plants anyway.”

    I was wondering the same thing. It seems to me that since much of the construction/destruction has not yet commenced, the PUCN may have some leeway now, on proposed rate and fee increases by NVE. NVE has to submit, on a quarterly basis, any proposed increases/decreases, along with justification for them.

    The PUCN has a dual role, to protect both consumers, and the utility companies. They must do this, while following the laws passed by the NV legislature — which includes guaranteeing NVE shareholders something like 9-10% profit. Many people believe that the PUCN’s sole duty is to protect consumers. This is not so.

    We have our state legislature and governors (both past and present) to thank for the RPS, and the rebate programs, which are subsidized by all rate payers. NVE heavily lobbies the legislature, as well, to the point of actually writing the legislation (SB123).

    I noticed one of the fees itemized on my bill from NVE:

    Local Government Fee, 5%, “Fee imposed by a local government, consisting of any business license fee, gross receipts or similar tax, collected by the Utility for doing business in its jurisdiction…”

    AB483 immediately came to mind. I called the PUCN, and asked them how this legislation would affect this fee. They have not yet gotten back to me with an answer. Anyone who believes AB483 only affects businesses is mistaken. Businesses will pass the costs on to their customers.

    I guess I’ll be spending some more quality time at PUCN meetings.

  9. […] on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling reining in the EPA’s overreach on emissions from coal-fire power plants, it seems the lawsuit […]

  10. WSJ: “Though the di­rect ben­e­fits from re­duc­ing mer­cury only amount to $4 mil­lion to $6 mil­lion an­nu­ally, the EPA con­jured “co-ben­e­fits” of $37 bil­lion to $90 bil­lion on re­al­ity-free as­sump­tions. As an ex­am­ple of how the EPA rigs such analy­sis, it claims that 15% of preg­nant women in Wis­con­sin catch and eat 300 pounds of lake fish a year and thus fewer new­borns would be ex­posed to the toxic sub­stance in utero. That’s a lot of fish­ing by preg­nant women.”

  11. nyp says:

    The absurd statement that the EPA “claims that 15% of preg­nant women in Wis­con­sin catch and eat 300 pounds of lake fish a year” was examined and debunked by factcheck.org.
    http://tinyurl.com/onmc7fq “Actually, the EPA assumption was far lower, about 0.1 pounds per week on average”

    BTW, Great Lakes fish are contaminated with methylmercury, which is emitted from upper Mid-West coal plants, falls into lakes and streams, and is concentrated in fish tissue. A pregnant woman really should not be eating fresh-water fish. Nor should kids.

  12. Rincon says:

    From the Illinois Dept. of public health:
    “THE METHYLMERCURY ADVISORY APPLIES TO PREDATORY FISH IN ALL ILLINOIS WATERS.”
    http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/fishadvisory/index.htm

  13. […] on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling reining in the EPA’s overreach on emissions from coal-fire power plants, it seems the lawsuit has […]

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