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The cost of compliance really does matter


July 08, 2015   By Jay Hudson in Energy Matters
On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States found the Environmental Protection Agency should have considered the costs of compliance when it issued the Mercury and Air Toxins Standards (MATS for short) rule in late 2011.

In its official opinion , the Court stated: "The Agency refused to consider cost when making its decision. It estimated, however, that the cost of its regulations to power plants would be $9.6 billion a year, but the quantifiable benefits from the resulting reduction in hazardous-air-pollutant emissions would be $4 to $6 million a year. Petitioners (including 23 States) sought review of EPA's rule in the D.C. Circuit, which upheld the Agency's refusal to consider costs in its decision to regulate."

What this means is EPA had estimated the MATS rule would cost electric utilities almost $10 billion annually to comply while only producing $4 million to  $6 million per year in benefits from removing the targeted... Continue Reading >>

Navigating the Waters of the United States


April 15, 2015   By Jay Hudson in Energy Matters
In order to determine what constitutes "jurisdictional" bodies of water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers actually has a definition of "Waters of the U.S." This definition began with the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 as "navigable waters, or tributaries thereof" when the Corps was assigned the responsibility of regulating crossings and maintaining waterways typically for transportation and commerce. Dredging the Charleston Harbor channel is a local example. 

Many years ago, during an update to the Clean Water Act , the Corps of Engineers was given responsibility to regulate wetlands, and the definition of jurisdictional "Waters of the U.S." took on a much more important meaning. Over the years, through various legal decisions, this definition narrowed to include those water bodies and features that were connected to a flowing water body, like a stream or lake. Swampy areas that were not directly connected were considered "isolated wetlands" and were excluded... Continue Reading >>

New Ozone Regulations - What's the Right Balance?


January 26, 2015   By Jay Hudson in Energy Matters
There are two sources of ozone that are important to us. The ozone in our upper atmosphere protects us from the sun's ultraviolet rays, and we couldn't survive without it. Then there's ground level ozone, which can be harmful to our lungs. It is formed through a chemical reaction when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) interact with sunlight. Emissions from power plants, industrial facilities, automobiles, gasoline vapors and solvents are all sources of NOx and VOCs. Natural sources, such as plant life and fires, also contribute to the formation of ozone.

The current national standard for ozone is 75 parts per billion (ppb), which is 33 percent lower than it was in 1980. Most of the country is meeting this standard, but there are still dense population centers like Houston and Southern California that do not meet the current standard.

Based on 40-year-old provisions in the Clean Air Act, EPA evaluates the standard every... Continue Reading >>