Bonds News

Calif. lawmaker chides EPA for approving coal plant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency administrator saying the EPA erred in approving a new coal-fired power plant in Utah three weeks ago.

The EPA granted on August 30 a permit for a 110-megawatt coal-fired plant to Deseret Power for the proposed Bonanza Power Plant in Uintah County, Utah.

It was the first time the EPA ruled on a coal-fired power plant since the U.S. Supreme Court last spring ruled that the EPA has the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming, and that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

“Remarkably, EPA refused to consider the global warming effects of the plant or to require any measures to mitigate that harm, contravening a Clean Air Act mandate and ignoring EPA’s ample discretionary authority to act,” wrote California Democrat Congressman Henry Waxman to EPA Director Stephen Johnson.

Waxman also wrote to Johnson that “your agency is ignoring the threat of climate change in approving new coal-fired power plants, one of the dominant sources of the global warming gas carbon dioxide. This is both illegal under the Clean Air Act and an enormous missed opportunity.”

Waxman’s letter raised concern that the EPA will soon focus on permits for three huge coal-fired plants each about 15 times bigger than the Bonanza plant -- the White Pine plant in Nevada, the Desert Rock plant on Navajo land in New Mexico, and the Carlson plant in New York.

Waxman told Johnson he wants a moratorium on approval of coal-fired power plant permits from the EPA until greenhouse gas emissions from the plants are considered.

Officials at the EPA were not available for comment on Wednesday evening.

Waxman said in his letter to Johnson that he wants a response from the EPA and Johnson by October 3.