Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, renewable energy
On Monday February 22nd, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) held a public meeting to discuss the status of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which the U.S. Supreme Court officially stayed on February 9th.
The agenda for this previously scheduled meeting was modified in order to address the recent developments of both the CPP stay, and the CDHPE’s statement in response, which was posted the very next day. In short, Colorado will essentially pursue CPP goals as if the stay never happened, while the states surrounding Colorado have put it on hold while the legal process plays out.
The 90-minute meeting consisted of a brief presentation by APCD deputy director, Chris Colclasure, followed by a Q & A and public testimony. Mr. Colclasure began by discussing public comments already received by his office, which were overwhelmingly in support of the CPP, including over 500 form-emails from nationally organized campaigns.
Colclasure defended CDPHE’s position to move forward on CPP emission goals, stating that his department will “take actions that have benefits regardless of the litigation,” because despite the legal process, “climate change remains a critical issue.” However, these purported benefits remain subjective, and are disputed by many stakeholders.
What analytical use is it to know a presumed benefit without knowing about its life-partner, cost? The CDPHE is conducting, a benefit analysis (and acting on it), rather than conducting a cost-benefit analysis. Colclasure stated in his presentation that they “hope” to model potential costs. The private sector metaphor here is a borrower going to a lender and saying, “lend me money for a house, because I hope to be able to afford my mortgage.” But in this case, the taxpayers are the ones being recklessly put at risk.
That isn’t a stretch. Energy Strategies and the Center for the New Energy Economy produced a model used by APCD to evaluate the CPP, but this model was never built to consider costs. During Monday’s public meeting, Mr. Colclasure admitted that the above companies have the ability to build a cost-inclusive model, but they were specifically contracted to not include costs in their modeling.
About 15 people spoke during the public testimony period, the majority of which supported the CPP, proving that the extreme environmental movement is well funded and well organized. Local, state, and national groups were represented, some even claiming the CPP doesn’t go far enough, and that environmental racism and injustice is not adequately addressed.
The testimony that did not support the CPP was moderate by comparison. Representatives from the Colorado Energy Consumers and the Colorado Mining Association requested that given the gift of time resulting from the stay, cost modeling, including probable job losses and ratepayer increases, be a priority in the coming months.
The CDPHE has demonstrated that it is unlikely to model the almost certainly heavy costs of the CPP, let alone reconsider implementing it. Colclasure spoke with certainty about the inevitability of carbon dioxide regulations, be they from the CPP or some other avenue. By all appearances, extreme and economically unsound environmental regulations are a runaway train in Colorado.
Sarah Huisman is an Independence Institute Future Leader, and Master’s student at Liberty University’s Helms School of Government.
February 23 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Conflicting views over Colorado CPP prep; Gold King Mine persists for Navajo Nation
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Legal, renewable energy, solar energy, wind energy
An E&E story ‘Colo. steps back from crafting formal plan for EPA rule’ might give readers pause, thinking that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was backing off its previous statement to proceed with “prudent” Clean Power Plan development even as a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court was in effect (paywall):
Colorado officials said yesterday they believe it is “prudent” for the state to keep working toward power plant carbon emissions reductions despite a recent Supreme Court ruling to freeze a key federal climate change regulation.
But the state’s original path toward meeting U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan goals will be recharted, officials declared at Colorado’s first public meeting about the regulation since the court stay.
“We don’t think it is appropriate at this point to continue drafting a full state plan,” said Chris Colclasure of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Pollution Control Division. “There’s just too much uncertainty for that.”
Colclasure said the decision to stop work on developing a full compliance plan is part of an effort in smart time management.
“We want to take any steps that we can to put Colorado in the best position given the uncertainty so that when the Supreme Court gives us a ruling, we have used that time effectively,” he said.
The state is “trying to identify actions that we can take that will have benefits regardless of the outcome of the litigation,” Colclasure said, adding that “we don’t want to waste time, either, by having people work on activities that wind up being irrelevant.”
This would include whether to cancel, reschedule, or rework meetings already on the CDPHE agenda for this spring.
A generous reading would see CDPHE’s declarations as a revision or walk-back of its post stay bravado to carry on with CPP preparation at the state level. But there might be no walk-back, but some verbal gymnastics designed to throw off possible legislative action this session or to see other reasons (not just “we should do something anyway because it’s a good thing”) like the state’s own impending 2020 renewable energy standards or Governor John Hickenlooper’s 2015 Colorado Climate Plan.
Meanwhile, at least 17 other states’ governors have signed a bipartisan pledge to promote a “new energy future” as CPP litigation continues.
An amicus brief filed by 34 Senators and 171 Representatives supporting the CPP lawsuit:
WASHINGTON – Led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), 34 Senators and 171 House Members filed an amicus brief today in the case of State of West Virginia, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al.
The amicus brief is in support of petitions filed by 27 states seeking to overturn the EPA final rule identified as the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602, 80 Fed. Reg. 64,662 (Oct. 23, 2015), also known as the “Clean Power Plan.” A copy of the brief can be found here.
As Senators and Representatives duly elected to serve in the Congress of the United States in which “all legislative Powers” granted by the Constitution are vested, the members state that:
The Final Rule goes well beyond the clear statutory directive by, among other things, requiring States to submit, for approval, state or regional energy plans to meet EPA’s predetermined CO2 mandates for their electricity sector. In reality, if Congress desired to give EPA sweeping authority to transform the nation’s electricity sector, Congress would have provided for that unprecedented power in detailed legislation. Indeed, when an agency seeks to make “decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance’” under a “long-extant statute,” it must point to a “clear” statement from Congress. Util. Air Regulatory Grp. v. EPA, 134 S. Ct. 2427, 2444 (2014) (quoting FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 160, 529 U. S. Ct. 1291, 1315 (2000)). EPA can point to no statement of congressional authorization for the Final Rule’s central features, precisely because there is none.
Gov. Hickenlooper defended his views about the CPP on CPR: ignoring SCOTUS stay to do a Colorado approach–more wind, more solar–”I think we do have a responsibility to go to those communities and see what we can do to try and find new businesses or be able to retrain some of the miners so that that community doesn’t suffer so much economically.”
“We really can have inexpensive electrical generation and clean air at the same time,” said Hickenlooper.
That “responsibility” Hickenlooper outlined will be tested, as coal communities see economic upheaval already:
The downward slide continued for Colorado’s coal industry in 2015, highlighted by production at Routt County’s Twentymile Mine, which was down 38 percent.
Statewide, production in Colorado was down 18.5 percent, with 18.7 million tons, the lowest amount of coal mined in 23 years.
In Moffat County, production at the Trapper Mine was actually up nine percent, with 2.1 million tons. At Colowyo Mine, production was down six percent at 2.3 million tons.
Colorado Mining Association President Stuart Sanderson said the drop in production is a result of lower demand, but it was not caused by natural market forces.
“What we are seeing is the direct result of government regulations that are designed to drive coal out of the energy mix,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson pointed to the 2010 Clean Air Clean Jobs fuel-switching bill from coal to natural gas.
“Moving forward, there is no question that the companies are suffering from this absurd action by the government to put hardworking men and women out of work,” Sanderson said.
In other words, mining communities aren’t just suffering economically, they’re suffering governmentally.
At the “Lifting the Oil Export Ban” event, Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter indicated support for a 5-10 cent gas tax hike as an “investment”–as he “comes from a construction family” (51:00 mark):
The Gold King Mine spill prompted by the Environmental Protection Agency still has lingering effects in Navajo Nation areas south of Colorado:
Millions of gallons of contamination from heavy metals flowed from the Animas River in Colorado into the San Juan River in New Mexico, threatening their economy and their spiritual way of life.
Joe Ben Jr. is a farmer and representative to the Navajo Nation board. He walked with CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger through corn stalks in a field.
“This corn should normally be higher than 6 feet, it’s about 4 feet,” Ben said.
With sadness he told of how they shut off the irrigation water when they heard the toxic plume was coming and still haven’t turned it back on. Some 550 indigenous Navajo farmers in the region have felt the impact. Ben says farming is an art in their culture for those who live off the land.
Among them is Earl Yazzie and his family. He can only bundle up what remains of what might have been a bountiful harvest. The mine spill took a toll on his farm. He estimates the loss at $10,000.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce asked–“What if a business did this?”:
If this were a private business, EPA would never have accepted this answer. It would have decried such behavior as “cutting corners” and rushing ahead with little regard to safety and the environment. Fines would’ve been issued.
Just like when EPA fined an oil exploration company $30,500 only a few days before the Gold King Mine spill for leaking 500 gallons of well testing fluids on Alaska’s North Slope. EPA allowed 6,000 times that amount of material to pour into a river. Will EPA (i.e. taxpayers) fork over $183 million in fines?
Last year, Administrator Gina McCarthy said EPA will be held accountable for the spill:
“We are going to be fully accountable for this in a transparent way,” she said at a press conference. “The EPA takes full responsibility for this incident. No agency could be more upset.”
When asked if the EPA will investigate itself as vigorously as it would a private company, McCarthy said, “We will hold ourselves to a higher standard than anybody else.”
On the transparency front, EPA is lacking. As noted above, Griswold’s email about water pressure concerns wasn’t included in EPA’s December 2015 report. Also, committee members are subpoenaing the Interior Department and the Army Corps of Engineers for more documents about the spill, because they don’t think the agencies have been forthcoming.
As for holding itself to a higher standard, that’s yet to be seen six months after the spill.
A House committee is seeking Interior Department documents in the Gold King Mine incident and the subsequent post-spill investigation:
Sally Jewell was ordered Wednesday by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources to produce a long list of records and correspondences by the end of next week.
Specifically, the committee wants information about how investigators under Jewell worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to peer review the report.
The committee’s chair, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said the Department of Interior has interfered with his requests for information on how the Gold King Mine report was compiled.
Bishop says the DOI has tried to block records showing the Army Corps of Engineers had “serious reservations about the scope and veracity” of the interior department’s review.
Army Corps records were also subpoenaed Wednesday.
Meanwhile, CDPHE sees the Gold King Mine spill as the impetus for action on other mines around the state:
SILVERTON —Of the 230 inactive mines the state recognized six months ago as causing the worst damage to Colorado waterways, state officials say 148 have not been fully evaluated.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has cobbled together $300,000 for an “inventory initiative” to round up records and set priorities. The agency is enlisting help from the Colorado Geological Survey at the Colorado School of Mines.
Colorado officials hope attention on the Animas River after the EPA-triggered spill at the Gold King Mine in August will spur action at scores of other inactive mines contaminating waterways. After the disaster, the state identified the worst 230 leaking mines draining into creeks and rivers.
There are an estimated 23,000 inactive mines in Colorado and 500,000 around the West. State officials estimate mining wastewater causes 89 percent of the harm to thousands of miles of waterways statewide.
November 20 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Sierra Club to push for 100% renewables in Colorado; EPA Clean Power Plan hearing draws opposing sides; COGCC discusses new regs
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, Legal, Legislation, New Energy Economy, regulations, renewable energy, solar energy, wind energy
(Image Credit: Michael Sandoval)
The Independence Institute’s Energy Policy Analyst Michael Sandoval delivered this statement to the Environmental Protection Agency’s November 16 hearing in Denver, Colorado on the agency’s proposed federal plan and model trading rules for the Clean Power Plan:
In its December 2014 comments, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, and the Colorado Energy Office all maintained that ‘In Colorado, the PUC has exclusive statutory authority to regulate the IOUs and associated electric resource decisions’ and that ‘depending upon the plan elements proposed by Colorado, legislation may be needed to clarify or direct state agencies on their respective roles and authorities’.
In a proposed mass-based emissions allocation trading market to trade eligible resource credits (ERCs), who is the market maker? It would appear to require institutional apparatus of some sort–what enabling legislation in Colorado is required? In other states? If no legislation at this level is required, why not?
Markets are complex and difficulty in trading–what are the rules? how are the rules established? Who handles disputes and is the ultimate arbiter? How are the credits created in the trading mechanism?
The Independence Institute is a free market think tank interested in promoting the free market in energy resources, but as nice or well-intentioned a trading market for ERCs sounds at first glance, it becomes evident that government-created “markets” are simply picking energy winners and losers, often arbitrarily, often without actual considerations of cost or impact, but rather to self-serving goals contained within a given policy, such as the Clean Power Plan. When those transactional costs of trading ERCs rise, who will pay them? The inefficiencies won’t be borne at the administrative or even generating level, but by the ratepayers and taxpayers, not all of whom will be prepared for the rising costs of the Clean Power Plan itself, much less in terms of wealth transfers from state to state as the trading scheme expands.
So far, as with much else from the rollout of the Clean Power Plan, the timeline for market creation is heavily compacted. Information from CDPHE in September on question of trading was light and unhelpful. As it appear now it is a scribbling of generalities, and it is difficult to comment because it appears to be more like a make-up-as-you-go, details to be sketched in later program that will prove harder, more expensive, and more nuanced than any central planning or federal trading scheme could possibly account for ahead of time.
These comments, of course, fall into the requisite acknowledgement of the ongoing legal, technical, and other shortcomings of the overall Clean Power Plan. Proposing a FIP and trading scheme would appear to be adopting a one-size-fits-all scheme to hasty environmental and electric generation planning at federal and state levels, and an expansion of EPA control over generation, distribution, and energy choice at the state level.
Compressing the timeline in 2016 will leave states scrambling without guidance ahead of their initial state plan submissions in 2016. Complicated mechanisms like a credit trading scheme, besides being legally or technically burdensome, surely deserve a measured approach. Concerns about the CPP or a credit trading system will continue with retards to electric reliability and electricity prices, something the state of Colorado has indicated is a foremost consideration, should we be able to take the state’s agencies and political establishment at their word.
Finally, all portions of the CPP must and should address the regressive nature of raising electricity prices on the nations’ poor, minority, elderly, and other vulnerable communities.
The Denver Business Journal captured some other responses at Monday’s EPA Clean Power Plan hearing:
Kim Stevens, Environment Colorado:
“We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change here in Colorado, from drought to floods, and these extreme weather events will only get worse without bold action to slash carbon pollution.”
Laura Comer, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign:
“The Clean Power Plan shows that the United States has a real, enforceable plan to curb dangerous carbon pollution and that we are truly to committed to combating climate disruption. We cannot let attacks from big polluters and their allies lessen our chances of a strong international agreement and undermine the safety of our communities.”
More reaction in the Denver Post:
“The EPA regulations will cost Colorado jobs, will cause electricity prices to soar and threaten the reliability of the electrical grid by mandating a wholesale restructuring of our electricity system for no appreciable benefit to the climate,” Colorado Mining Association president Stuart Sanderson said.
Sanderson and National Mining Association officials pointed to industry-backed studies saying power costs for residents of Colorado and other states would increase by around 30 percent between 2022 and 2030.
The plan leaves it to states to implement changes subject to EPA approval. EPA officials have said they will take into account each state’s current energy mix. If a state fails to act, federal officials would impose “an implementation plan” on that state.
The feds held the hearings on implementing the plan in Pittsburgh last week and, after Denver, will hear from residents in Atlanta and Washington D.C. A second day of comments are scheduled to continue Tuesday morning in Denver.
Sanderson called the Clean Power Plan a “stealth energy tax” for Coloradans.***
Many folks who push for clean energy or regulations like the EPA’s Clean Power Plan say that these programs will create jobs–but they never seem to remember the jobs these anti-energy choice mandates end up killing, like the more than 200 jobs Union Pacific will likely slash due to decreases in coal transportation in Colorado:
Union Pacific this week notified workers it will shutter its Burnham Shop repair yard in central Denver, putting more than 200 jobs on the line and darkening a piece of Colorado history.
Operations at Burnham will halt Feb. 14, the Omaha-based railroad said.
“The well-documented decline in the coal carloadings in Colorado — a result of natural gas prices and regulatory pressure — has diminished the need for locomotive repairs and overhauls in the Denver area,” Calli B. Hite, a Union Pacific spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to The Denver Post.
Loaded coal trains originating in Colorado have decreased 80 percent since 2005, Hite wrote.
Earlier this week, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission held hearings on new fracking rules, including limiting hours for fracking operations and setbacks for development:
The Bureau of Land Management has stirred up controversy over 65 existing oil and gas leases with a new environmental impact statement that puts nearly half at risk:
The Bureau of Land Management released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) Wednesday that put 65 existing oil and gas leases on White River National Forest land under the microscope. The agency found that 25 leases in the controversial Thompson Divide area must be either wholly or partially cancelled.
This long-awaited decision was embraced by conservation groups, and panned by the oil and gas industry.
The rub was over the legality of these leases, which are owned by Houston-based energy companies SG Interests and Ursa Resources, and have been scrutinized for years. Many conservation groups have said that the leases were issued without undergoing the proper environmental evaluations.
The BLM draft EIS backs that position, and now a 49-day public comment period will begin on Nov. 20 and will run through Jan. 8, 2016.
“We appreciate the effort of the local community in this discussion,” said BLM Colorado State Director Ruth Welch in a prepared statement. “We will continue to work toward finding a path forward that balances energy development and conservation, while recognizing the White River National Forest’s planning efforts.”
The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter would like the entire state of Colorado to be 100% renewable, beginning with Denver. Becky English, the executive committee chair for the Sierra Club, responded to an email about a sustainability summit scheduled for early December in Denver:
I would have liked to share that the Sierra Club national board has declared a goal of powering the electric sector by 100% renewable energy nationwide, and that the Rocky Mountain Chapter has adopted the goal for Colorado. I will approach you offline about how best to work toward this goal in Denver.
The “Sustainable Denver Summit” on December 3rd will feature Denver Mayor Michael Hancock:
Sustainable Denver Summit Program
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. – Registration, Continential Breakfast, and Exhibition Space
9:00 – 10:00 a.m. – Opening plenary session – Remarks from Keynote Speaker and Mayor Michael B. Hancock
10:00 a.m. – Breakout Sessions –
• Energy – Focusing on issues of energy efficiency, renewable energy, use of energy in mobility, and air quality and greenhouse gas reduction
• Water – Focusing on both water quantity and water quality, including climate change resilience
• Materials – Focusing on cradle-to-cradle materials management issues, including environmentally preferable purchasing, recycling, composting and by-product synergy
• Mobility – Focusing on providing multiple interconnected mobility modes that are cleaner, safer, cheaper and more efficient than the current system
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – Luncheon and Sustainability Awards – Awards will be presented to the 2015 Sustainable Denver Award winners
1:45 – 3:45 p.m. – Breakout Sessions Reconvene
4:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Closing Plenary Session – Report out on commitments
They should probably also feature a breakout session on how these programs will make the city of Denver–not to mention the entire state of Colorado under the Sierra Club’s plan–less affordable for low income and minority populations.
A welcome development–Attorney General Cynthia Coffman says joining a lawsuit “where we need to be” when it comes to Colorado and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, finalized earlier this month:
Colorado has joined a growing list of states that will sue the Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to stop the implementation of President Obama’s controversial Clean Power Plan.
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said the lawsuit, challenging the EPA’s authority, represents “crucial litigation” against the measure first proposed last year. More than 20 states are expected to be a part of the filing.
“We have been looking at (the plan) and evaluating whether or not there is such an impact on Colorado that we needed to put our name on a lawsuit ,” Coffman, a Republican, said in an interview Friday with The Denver Post. “… We just determined this week that is exactly where we need to be.”
This would be the second lawsuit joined by the state of Colorado. A judge earlier this week blocked the EPA from moving forward in 13 states, including Colorado, on the agency’s Waters of the United States rule.
EPA overreach and drastically elevated electricity prices form the basis of concern, accompanied by legal questions over the agency’s legal authority to steer a state’s electricity portfolio:
“If you make a change like the one we will see if this rule is implemented, I think it has the potential to cost jobs,” Coffman said. “I think it will impact the rates that we pay for our electricity. And I think it impacts the rights of our state government to make these decisions about how electricity is delivered.”
The Colorado Mining Association, an industry association with more than 1,000 members, commends Coffman for challenging the EPA’s regulations.
“By joining this lawsuit, General Coffman seeks to protect Colorado consumers from skyrocketing electricity prices as well as increased costs for all goods and services that are produced using electricity,” the association said in a Saturday news release.”The EPA regulations are legally flawed, will cost Colorado jobs and threaten the reliability of the electrical grid,” the association said in a Saturday news release.
Filed under: Environmental Protection Agency, Legal, Legislation, preferred energy, renewable energy
More than 400 people turned out last week for the “Stop the EPA Power Grab” rally for affordable energy just across Lincoln Avenue from the west steps of the Capitol.
Coal miners, their families, representatives of more than 20 allied mining and natural resource groups, union members, business leaders, and affordable energy activists from Colorado and many states across the Rocky Mountain region gathered to address the Environmental Protection Agency’s “listening tour” for its newly unveiled “Clean Power Plan.”
The Independence Institute was a co-sponsor of the event, along with Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, the Colorado Mining Association, and several other business and civic groups from Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. Union groups represented included the AFL-CIO of Wyoming and Boilermakers of Montana.
Over the next two years, the EPA expects each state to develop its own plan to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels.
These regulations are designed to hurt coal–and by extension, will harm low income, minorities, the elderly, and rural communities that rely on coal for affordable, reliable energy. The rule will likely artificially raise the price of electricity substantially, while inefficient and more expensive sources of energy are substituted.
While agnostic on the question of energy sources, the Independence Institute is not agnostic on the intrusion of government in the free market energy arena, and believes that each state’s energy mix should be market-driven, not shaped by onerous and far-reaching regulations that stifle competition and raise electricity rates.
That was the message the Independence Institute wished to share with the attendees last week.
The text of my speech, more or less as delivered:
Good afternoon! My name is Michael Sandoval and I’m an energy policy analyst and investigative reporter for the Independence Institute, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about how mining brought my family to Colorado 86 years ago.
More than 100 years ago, my great-grandfather Anthony, a poor Italian immigrant, moved to Utah to mine coal and achieve the American Dream–earn a living for his growing family. With the money he earned from coal mining, he moved to Denver’s Little Italy, and in 1928, along with his son–my grandfather–he purchased a grocery store that was a fixture in the Italian-American community for 7 decades, eventually becoming an historic landmark.
I stand before you a product of that rich mining heritage, and I am deeply grateful for it.
I also stand WITH you. I will NOT let the EPA CRUCIFY COAL–to use the words of Al Armendariz, former EPA administrator and now Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaigner.
Our natural resources are both a blessing and a driving economic force in our region. They provide tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and they keep the lights on and, this time of year, the air conditioning running not just for us but for our most vulnerable community members.
But EPA outsiders have decided that a different energy path should be followed. They pay lip service to those affected by having a handful of “listening tours” AFTER they’ve decided which predetermined policy course they should undertake.
That is why we are here today. To let the EPA know that we already have ABUNDANT AFFORDABLE, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, RELIABLE ENERGY.
The Independence Institute is agnostic on energy sources–we do not care if the energy comes from hydro, coal, solar, natural gas, nuclear, or wind–but we are not agnostic on the subject of government intrusion into the energy sector–free energy markets, not preferred energy mandates, should guide our economy.
Achieving our own energy mix should come from market forces as businesses and consumers choose what is best for them, not onerous regulations imposed by anonymous EPA bureaucrats.
Government agencies like the EPA or the Department of Energy should NOT be in the business of picking energy winners and losers with this proposal, which EPA DIRECTOR GINA MCCARTHY ADMITTED “ISN’T ABOUT POLLUTION CONTROL” JUST LAST WEEK IN A SENATE COMMITTEE.
THIS PITS corporate cronies–WHAT MCCARTHY DUBS “INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN CLEAN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY” against the poor, the elderly, minorities, rural communities.
Nothing was more poignant than last October, when the EPA last made a stop at its Region 8 office, as miners and rural business owners and suppliers–along with their families–were forced to plead for their livelihoods with agency representatives.
We are here, along with all of the other organizations and friends here today, to say NO–say it with me–NO–to the EPA’s energy power grab.
DON’T BE FOOLED into thinking this is just about coal, or that hydraulic fracturing is just about natural gas. Folks, this is about an agenda for putting an end to the use of ALL of our natural resources, not just in Colorado, but in the entire Rocky Mountain West.
- Regarding HB 1365 (a.k.a. the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act), the big news is that Xcel has yet to make up its mind. As I noted here, the Minneapolis-based utility has the authority under HB 1365 to veto the fuel switching implementation plan chosen by the PUC on December 10. So far, Xcel has kept mum on its intentions, save for a request to clarify the PUC’s written decision. In particular, the utility asked the PUC what sort of flexibility it has in scheduling the retirement of the 152 megawatt Cherokee 3 coal fired power plant in Adams County north of Denver. If Xcel were to veto the PUC’s preferred plan, then HB 1365 and its attendant proceedings would have been for naught.
- At the conclusion of HB 1365 hearings before the PUC, I predicted confidently that coal interests would litigate whatever was decided. As well they should: HB 1365 was proposed by coal’s competitors, in order to tilt the electricity market away from coal, and towards themselves. In light of the fact that coal’s competitors chose to compete in the legal arena, rather than the market, coal interests in Colorado have every right to defend themselves using the legal process. Here’s a litigation roundup.
So what’s next?
First, Xcel must decide if PUC’s chosen plan is acceptable. HB 1365 allows Xcel “to withdraw its application,” if it “disagrees with the Commission’s modifications to its proposed plan.”
There’s no guarantee that Xcel will approve the plan. After all, the PUC spurned Xcel’s “preferred” plan, its “recommended” plan, and its third choice. Moreover, the PUC rejected Xcel’s request to get paid up front for its investments to implement HB 1365. I don’t think the utility had intended to compromise to this extent at the outset of the proceedings, so I wouldn’t be shocked if the utility walked away from the plan (although I would be surprised).
Last Thursday, seven Colorado State Senators sent Governor Bill Ritter a letter demanding that he remove PUC Commissioners Ron Binz and Matt Baker from deliberations on HB 1365, the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act. The Senators’ request is based on almost 70 pages of emails, obtained by the Colorado Mining Association with a Colorado Open Records Act request, that show how Commissioners Binz and Baker participated in the drafting of the law. The seven Senators and the CMA argue that Binz and Baker cannot possibly maintain impartiality while conducting hearings on the implementation of a law they helped draft.
According to the CMA, the PUC’s involvement in drafting HB 1365 creates the “appearance of impropriety,” because,
“the Commissioners actively engaged in negotiations with a primary regulated utility regarding issues that would come before the Commission for decision directly involving that regulated utility—issues that give the appearance that the Commissioners are pre-disposed toward [Xcel] and the Plan [ie, the HB 1365 implementation plan put forth by Xcel]. In particular, ratemaking treatment for the costs incurred by [Xcel] in implementing the Plan appears to have already been negotiated and resolved. As such, the Commissioners have essentially abdicated their core responsibility to assure that rates are just and reasonable.”