From One Chief Executive to Another on Coal and Carbon Dioxide

Frequent readers here or of other Chamber communications have no doubt taken notice of the alarming Washington trend of government by regulation. Numerous reports, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Ten Thousand Commandments among the latest, have examined this dangerous development. Congress may be deadlocked, but government agencies are the ones putting the stranglehold on businesses in Indiana and throughout the country.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence weighed in this week with a letter to President Obama regarding carbon dioxide standards that are being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Pence writes, in part, that the "EPA is proposing a rule that will constrain any potential for an all of the above energy strategy and harm our economy in the process."

The Governor points out that Indiana will be particularly impacted because of its status as one of the leading manufacturing states. While the energy mix has been diversified, coal will remain the major source of electricity. Pence says, "The coal industry and electricity providers have made great strides toward lower emissions, and, as we replace our aging electricity generation plants, I have no doubt that we will find ways to lower emissions even further."

View the full letter — and let's hope Washington pays attention!

EPA Proposes Coal Ash Regulation

This is a pretty niche-oriented post, but probably valuable for those in the world of environmental regulations. Andy Bowman of Bingham McHale LLP explains a potential new law, which could impact many Indiana manufacturers. Granted, this information is… I won’t use the phrase "inside baseball" because I can’t stand it, but yes, that’s what it is. Bowman explains what you should know:

On May 4, 2010, the U.S. EPA proposed first-time national rules to regulate the disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power plants under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Coal ash is also referred to as coal combustion residuals (CCR) and includes fly ash, bottom ash, flue gas desulfurization materials, synthetic gypsum and boiler slag. The proposed rules are largely in response to the 2008 failure of a Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash impoundment which resulted in a massive release of more than a billion gallons of water and coal ash onto nearby land and into streams and rivers, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs. U.S. EPA is seeking comments on two options for the regulation of coal ash: (1) as a hazardous waste under Subtitle C of RCRA; or (2) as a nonhazardous waste under Subtitle D of RCRA.

Under the Subtitle C option, coal ash would be listed as a “special waste.” As a special waste coal ash would be regulated as a hazardous waste under the cradle-to-grave requirements of Subtitle C of RCRA, except that coal ash would be unregulated if it is reused for certain beneficial purposes, such as encapsulation in building materials or road construction. Under the Subtitle C approach, U.S. EPA will effectively phase out the wet handling of coal ash and existing surface impoundments. Existing surface impoundments must meet land disposal restrictions and would be required to be retrofitted with liners within five years of the effective date of the rule to remain in operation. New surface impoundments must meet land disposal restrictions and liner requirements. New landfills must install liners. Existing and new landfills would be subject to groundwater monitoring requirements. Surface impoundments operated after the effective date of the rule would be required to meet structural stability standards set by the federal Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The Subtitle C option would require permits for the treatment, storage or disposal of coal ash…

According to U.S. EPA, Indiana ranks third highest among the 45 states which generate CCR. Nationally 56% of CCR is disposed in landfills or surface impoundments. About 37% of CCR is beneficially reused and the remaining 7% is used as minefill. The proposed rule does not address minefilling. U.S. EPA estimates annual compliance costs of $1.4 billion for the Subtitle C option and $587 million for the Subtitle D option. Utility customers can expect to bear the costs of the new regulations.

Bowman and his colleagues from Bingham McHale also author the Chamber’s Environmental Compliance Handbook, which is used by many Indiana companies.

Rallying Cry: Stop the EPA

We reported last week on the efforts of several states (Texas being the latest to file suit) to stop Environmental Protection Agency regulation of greenhouse gases. The reasons are many, including devastating impacts on the economy.

Add a few more powerful players to the mix — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and a leading Senate committee member. Both want to employ the Congressional Review Act. Here is an explanation:

Barbour is floating a draft letter to governors at their winter meeting asking Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to reject EPA’s endangerment finding. That finding cites climate change as a risk to public health and welfare, which the agency is using as justification for pursuing regulations.

"In addition to placing heavy administrative burdens on state environmental quality agencies, regulating greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act will be costly to consumers and hurt the U.S. economy, resulting in job losses," according to Barbour’s draft.

This echoes an effort by Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski, who is expected to call for a vote on a resolution in March to use the Congressional Review Act to block EPA, spokesman Robert Dillon said.

She needs 51 votes and has 40 co-sponsors for her disapproval resolution, including three Democrats led by Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln.

Murkowski’s effort, and those by Energy and Commerce ranking member Joe Barton and others in the House, are not expected to be successful, given Democratic control of Congress and opposition from the president, who could veto a resolution even if it gets through both chambers.

But it continues to raise the argument that efforts by the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders to limit U.S. greenhouse gases are serious threats to the economy heading into this fall’s elections. 

Hoosier Printer Goes All In on Green

Power to the printers!

Indianapolis-based Harding Poorman Group (HPG) earned a spot on the most recent Top 20 Printers List released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which recognizes commercial printers with the largest green power purchases. HPG placed No. 9. According to the EPA, it was the first company in Indiana – and the fifth nationwide – to buy 100% green power.

Green power is electricity generated from renewable energy resources (such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass), which produce electricity without increasing carbon dioxide emissions.

The EPA reports that the four million kilowatt-hours of green power that HPG purchases annually equals the amount of electricity used to power more than 400 average American homes each year.

HPG’s focus on green power is part of an environmentally friendly initiative it launched last July. Already, it has cut the waste it sends to landfills by more than 24% (with a goal of reaching 76% by year’s end). In addition, the company purchased a UV press (which generates 0% volatile compounds) and is continually experimenting with innovative technologies, such as biodegradable shrinkwrap.