The 2nd EPA Listening Session For Region 7
By Richard Mabion
Representatives of various environmental organizations from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, met December 14th with EPA Clean Air personnel at EPA Region 7 offices in Lenexa, Kansas. This meeting, billed as the 2nd Listening Session, was a follow-up to the original Listening Session held November 4, 2013, to receive input from the public on how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal -fired power plants. The photo shows Andy Knott (sitting to the right in the green shirt) from the Missouri Chapter’s Beyond Coal Campaign addressing the focus of the meeting with Becky Weber, the EPA facilitator (in front of the poster board).
EPA seems to be focusing on energy efficiency as the principal means to obtain a significant reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. These gains would come from ‘inside the fence line” from improvements in the operation of the plant, itself and from “outside the fence line” where business and residents would reduce their demand for electricity. It was the outside the fence approach that appealed to me the most.
The EPA participants proposed that a reduction of electricity usage of 17% was feasible. When asked if 17% would be enough, they replied that President Obama used that figure when he introduced the proposed regulation.
Since the first Listening Session in November, Region 7’s Clean Air team had met with state regulators and utilities companies in all four states in the region. Most of the conversation had been on the state’s responsibility to have a Clean Air plan competed by June 2016. This would be a year after EPA had finished its Clean Air guidelines on the rules for existing power plants (Sec. 111d of the Clean Air Act).
However, the EPA people said the utilities felt that a 17 percent overall reduction seemed achievable, with only 0 – 5% coming from inside the fence line (1 to 2 % seemed to be the average), and the rest from outside the fence line. That fits with the kind of energy efficiency education the Kansas Sierra Club has been doing in Kansas City, Kansas and Wichita with our low-income citizens, who, as we know, are usually the most vulnerable and neglected Americans.
There was also some discussion on what was called the baseline. I don’t feel I know enough to comment, but 2007 seems to be the baseline year being considered.
The other members who were able to attend the meeting (either in person or on call) were: Andy Knott, Sierra Club; Moti Rieber, Interfaith Power and Light; David Weiskopf, NRDC; Dorothy Barnett, Climate and Energy Project; Heather Navarro, Missouri Coalition for the Environment; Kate McCormick, NRDC; Kristin Riott, Bridging the Gap; Andrew Linhares, Renew Missouri; Zack Pistora, Sierra Club; Richard Mabion, Sierra Club; Harold Hedelman, NRDC Citizen Advocates; Ed Smith, Missouri Coalition for the Environment; Glenda Abney, Missouri Botanical Garden Earthways Center; Jonathan Hladik, Center for Rural Affairs; Joshua T. Mandelbaum, Environmental Law and Policy Center; Larry Lazar, NRDC Citizen Advocates; Susan Guy, Interfaith Power and Light. EPA had 6 in attendance with Becky Weber being the facilitator, and Josh Tapp & Mark Smith being their presenters.