It didn’t take long for the Deseret Power Decision to come back to Ohio. The debate is over whether a permit for the proposed coal to liquid fuel plant proposed by Baard Energy and AMP Ohio’s new coal power plant can move forward in light of the decision. Here is a sampling of the debate over the Baard project as it appears in the local paper The Vindicator:
The statements came as the state EPA is on the brink of issuing an air permit for the proposed $5.5 billion Baard Energy plant that would turn coal into liquid fuel. Settles said a decision is expected to be made within the next two weeks.
The air permit would be the final permit needed to begin construction that would be a boost to the local economy. Permits regulating the plant’s effects on water and wetlands have already been approved.
In a statement, the Sierra Club said it went before the EPA Appeals Board in May of this year to request that the air permit for Deseret Power Electric Cooperative’s proposed waste coal-fired power plant in Utah be overturned because it failed to require any controls on carbon dioxide pollution.
The Sierra Club’s statement said the decision means that all new and proposed coal plants nationwide must go back and address their carbon dioxide emissions.
AMP Ohio’s permit is facing an equal challenge. In today’sDaily Sentinel, AMP Ohio was a bit cautious in its statements:
Carson (AMP Ohio) also pointed out, the decision was not in Ohio, which has a fully approved state permitting program, and that AMP-Ohio has worked for over a year in cooperation with Ohio EPA in meeting all requirements of Ohio law in regards to getting the plant online. Carson also pointed out the permit for the Utah plant was not denied but sent back to a regional office for reevaluation.
In a press release, the Sierra Club stated: “Two of the largest new coal proposals for Ohio, the AMP-Ohio power plant in Meigs County and the Baard liquid coal plant in Columbiana County, are likely to face setbacks from the ruling. Both companies had previously insisted that carbon dioxide should remain unregulated — an argument rejected in today’s ruling — and had resisted attempts to establish carbon limits in their air permits.”
Obviously there is a disagreement between the Sierra Club and Ohio EPA on how the decision will affect the permits at issue. While Ohio EPA is correct that it is one federal court decision, the two cases that have had final decisions issued on whether C02 must be evaluated as part of federal New Source Review (NSR) have certainly been more in favor of requiring controls. The Georgia State court held CO2 is a regulated pollutant and the pollution control analysis (BACT) for the new coal plant had to include controls for CO2.
The Sierra Club is a certainly overstating the decision in Deseret (see their Press Release) by claiming that all new coal plants must address CO2. As discussed in my last post, the Environmental Appeals Board remanded the permit to U.S. EPA. The Board said U.S. EPA has discretion to go either way- determine CO2 is a regulated pollutant or decide monitoring requirements are not enough to trigger requirements to control CO2.
The Board did reject U.S.EPA’s basis for saying historical precedent tied its hands from determining monitoring was enough to trigger regulation of CO2. However, the Board did not say U.S. EPA couldn’t develop a defensible position.
What is certain, is there is tremendous uncertainty. From these comments we can anticipate Ohio EPA will issue the permit (known as "The Ohio River Clean Fuels LLC") without requiring analysis of CO2. The Baard permit will be challenged and it is totally uncertain as to whether the permit will be invalidated by either a State or Federal Court in Ohio. The AMP Ohio Permit faces similar uncertainty.