Manchin Refutes Basis of Clean Power Plan in Letter to EPA Administrator

Senator Manchin questions why EPA used failing Canadian project as basis for new coal-fired power plants in Clean Power Plan

Manchin argues recent reports prove CCS is still technologically unproven and should not be required for U.S. coal plants

Washington, D.C. – November 10, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy criticizing the EPA for establishing the Clean Power Plan standards for new coal-fired power plants that are based on a presently failing Canadian carbon, capture and sequestration (CCS) project.

In the letter, Senator Manchin points out that the EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new coal-fired plants in the United States are based largely off the perceived success of the Boundary Dam CCS Project, a still-developing CCS power plant in Canada. Canadian press reports have recently disclosed that the Boundary Dam Project has failed to operate successfully at full CCS for any meaningful period of time. Senator Manchin claims that these reports prove CCS is still technologically unproven in a power plant application and, therefore, should not be required for U.S. coal plants. Instead, Senator Manchin argues the EPA should scrap this impossible-to-meet rule or amend it to require advanced technology that has actually been implemented, would offer improved environmental performance and is commercially viable.

“Forcing new coal-fired plants to meet standards when experts know that the required technology is not sustainably operational on a commercial scale makes absolutely no sense,” Senator Manchin said. “By requiring technology that has never been adequately demonstrated, the EPA is forcing an industry to shut down and consumers to pay higher utility bills. I have always said that if it is unobtainable, it is unreasonable. If a standard is impossible to meet, for a minimum of 12 months of sustained commercial operation, then it is unreasonable to impose that standard on our people.”

To read Senator Manchin’s full letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, please click here.

Background:

The EPA has indicated that its final rule for all new coal-fired power plants in the United States is based largely off a still-developing power plant unit in Canada, the Boundary Dam CCS Project.

In the final rule, EPA asserted that “The Boundary Dam facility has been operating full CCS successfully at commercial scale since October 2014.”

In fact, the EPA alluded five times in its final rule to the supposedly successful full CCS operation of the project.

However, based on recent news reports from Canada, involving leaked documents on the demonstration unit’s operation, which have been since acknowledged by the plant company’s management, it is now evident that the Boundary Dam CCS Project has failed to operate successfully at full CCS for any meaningful period of time.

This result substantially undermines the EPA’s final regulation for CO2 emissions on new coal fired power plants (NSPS), as the full CCS unit on this project served as the fundamental basis for the EPA’s reasoning.

The reports also identify the CCS system of the demonstration plant as playing a role in the delays for getting the plant up and running. After one year of operation, the project was forced to replace certain important features at a cost of $60 million. There have also been nearly $23 million in non-performance penalties and lost revenues.

After first stating that the plant was operating at full CCS since October 2014, the company, SaskPower, is forecasting the project is now on track to become fully operational by the end of 2016; there are no guarantees that this will prove true either.

SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh now claims the project will need at least a year of stable operation to prove the technical operation and the economics of the project, which would aid in determining commercially viability: “Once we can achieve stable operation for a year, we’ll be able to prove the technical operation and the economics of this project. If you can’t run it stably for a long period of time, you’ll never be able to do that.” Reports out of Canada indicate that SaskPower now won’t know about the project’s viability until the end of 2017.

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