Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A lump of coal for Big Power

Many coal plants, including some in Connecticut, were grandfathered after the passage of the Clean Air Act so that they did not have to meet modern pollution standards. However, when operators made a "modification" to these plants, they would theoretically have to bring them up to code. Depending on who has been sitting in the White House, the term "modification" has been taken to mean different things and many of these plants are still billowing sooty smoke and poison into the air (though in CT we managed to pass our own emission standards). The Supreme Court recently ruled 9-0 that a lower court unjustly allowed these plants to bypass the Clean Air Act with loose definitions of "modification".

What this will do, in my estimation, is level the playing field a bit. In an open market, dirty plants that have not installed pollution control technology have been cheaper to operate and therefore economically preferable to cleaner modern plants.

In a similar Supreme Court decision, it has been decided that CO2 is a pollutant and the EPA has the authority to regulate its emission. We will see where this leads.

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