Officials weighing federal applications by utilities to build new coal-fired power plants cannot consider their greenhouse gas output, Stephen Johnson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled on Thursday. Environmentalists fear the decision will clear the way for the approval of several such plants in the last days of the Bush administration.
Just about a month ago, the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board ruled that the EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming from new coal-fired power plants. This appeared to be great news for clean, alternative energy since the appeals court ruling would stop permitting of any new coal-burning power plants for some time.
However, a memorandum issued by EPA head, Stephen Johnson, on Thursday puts the agency on record saying that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant to be regulated when approving power plants.
James Hansen, the nation’s leading climate scientist has said, “The science is clear: a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, and phase-out of existing coal plants, is essential if we want to preserve creation, the life on our planet, for young people and future generations.”
Under the Bush administration, the EPA has rejected the idea that greenhouse gases should be regulated like other kinds of air pollution, despite an April 2007 Supreme Court ruling that said carbon dioxide fit the definition of a pollutant that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has formally requested for a Department of Justice investigation into the potential criminal conduct of EPA head Stephen Johnson. Whitehouse said that Johnson put "the interests of corporate polluters before science and the law” in ozone, lead, soot, tailpipe emissions, and global warming pollution. In a speech on the senate floor, Whitehouse said, "The American people cannot accept such a person in a position of such great responsibility. I am sorry it has come to this, but I call on Administrator Johnson to resign his position."
To see EPA head Stephen Johnson in 'inaction', watch this video. His middle name should be Stonewall: Stephen "Stonewall" Johnson. He deserves a Fossil Fool Award for his actions as well as his inactions on CO2 emissions and global warming.
A change to President-elect Obama's newly selected team on environment and energy can not come fast enough.
For the full reports, see: New York Times, Washington Post, Wonk Room