No more 'No New Coal'?

Thanks to the good work of the Sierra Club and a large coalition of
western and Utah organizations, the phrase ‘No New Coal’ may have gone
WAY out of style today. The Environmental Appeals Board of the EPA just
ruled that the EPA has the authority to establish a Best Available
Control Technology (BACT) limit for carbon dioxide.

Up until now the EPA has gone out of it’s way to avoid, duck, shirk
and otherwise weasel it’s way out of treating C02 as a pollutant and
regulating it as such, but this ruling decrees that every argument it
has used so far to avoid doing so is legally insufficient. The decision
is binding for all EPA-issued air quality permits, so best case
scenario - this could affect every single air quality permit for a new
coal plant in the country.

Which means……that we may see the stalling of all coal-fired power
plant permits under consideration for a year or so while the EPA
figures out what ‘Best Available Control Technology’ means in this
context. I repeat: no more new coal-plants. Then, the sound of
scurrying feet as the coal industry scrambles to fast-track the
ever-mythical Carbon Capture and Sequestration technology and finally
the gradual movement of all the energy that has been built up around
stopping NEW coal plants towards dealing with the 500 existing plants.

This has been a week of emails and blogs about how we can’t rest on
our laurels just because Obama got elected. The same holds true for
this EAB ruling — it may really stop new coal-fired power plants, and
for that we can all be enormously relieved.

We won’t be moving in the wrong direction any more. Now the
challenge is to start moving in the right one - towards no coal
whatsoever.