EPA would face resistance from utilities over GHG rules on existing plants: Entergy VP
Washington (Platts)--28Feb2013/232 pm EST/1932 GMT
Any Environmental Protection Agency efforts to regulate greenhouse gas
emissions from existing power plants will face significant pushback from
utilities due to regional differences in renewables capacity, access to
natural gas and other market factors, Rod West, executive vice president of
Entergy, said Thursday.
"Anything that's supposed to be sustainable is going to have an impact
somewhere," West said at the Climate Leadership Conference in Washington. "We
can talk altruistically about the greater good, but getting there requires a
consequence or sacrifice from other sectors. The country is dealing with the
immediacy of economic strife. That's the reality of this fight."
Many observers expect the EPA will soon draft greenhouse gas regulations
on existing power plants, particularly after Obama stressed in his February 12
State of the Union address that he would direct federal agencies to take
action to battle climate change if Congress does not act.
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In a separate address, EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe
did not outline any such actions EPA might propose. But he noted that EPA is
currently finalizing GHG regulations on new power plants, which will cap
carbon emissions at 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour, and he said it would be
an opportunity for innovation.
"We believe this is an achievable standard," said Perciasepe, rumored to
be on President Barack Obama's short list to be nominated as EPA
administrator. "We do expect that this will take advantage of American
technology. It will help us all move to a cleaner energy future."
Entergy would like to see a market-based regulatory regime on GHG
emissions, a prospect that is unlikely given Congress' partisan divisions,
West said. But in the absence of a national consensus on climate change,
Entergy is nonetheless making its investment decisions with climate change in
mind, as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy have demonstrated that the
impacts of rising global temperatures are real.
"As businessmen and women, we have to also look at this through the lens
of risk management," West said. "You can be agnostic on the science. But
purely from a risk management perspective, how can you assess the risk of
Perciasepe, as several EPA and White House officials have in recent
weeks, emphasized that federal environmental regulations can spur investment
in advanced technologies, leading to greater market opportunities for
He cited the agency's auto mileage standards as an example of how
regulation has driven innovation, to the benefit of industry. Those
standards, finalized in 2012, will force cars and light trucks to double
their fuel efficiency and achieve 54.5 mpg by 2025.
"It is clear that setting these standards and providing that clarity for
the auto industry is paying dividends," Perciasepe said. "As they make their
investments, they are doing amazing things. The selection that American
consumers have now is astounding."
Americans purchased the most US-made cars last year in five years, he
noted. Automakers are "using new materials, new components, cutting edge
technologies," Perciasepe said. "All the way down the supply chain we're
William Reilly, a former EPA administrator during the George H.W. Bush
administration, said engagement with industry is key, given that so much
innovation and technological development happens in the private sector.
As a chairman of Obama's oil spill commission investigating the BP
Macondo blowout, he said he was shocked to find that the industry was
familiar with BP's safety shortcomings, while regulators were in the dark.
"The regulatory agencies ... can barely keep up with the developments,"
Reilly told reporters on the sideline of the conference. "I think it's very
important that our regulatory agencies be in touch with industry."
Beyond regulations, Perciasepe said EPA has engaged in many industry
partnerships and created consumer programs aimed at addressing climate
For example, the Energy Star program, which EPA jointly administers with
the Department of Energy, is marking its 20th anniversary this year, having
certified more than 5 billion products sold. Energy Star is a labeling
program that identifies for consumers the most energy efficient products and
"The approach of building consumer choice into the equation is very
powerful," Perciasepe said.
--Herman Wang, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Richard Rubin, email@example.com