NAM: Administration expected to issue bevy of high-profile regulations this Summer

According to a rule-making schedule released by the White House on Thursday, this summer is expected to be “busy for the Obama administration’s energy and environmental regulators, with numerous high-profile rule releases planned,” The Hill (5/22, Cama) reported. The schedule revealed that “regulators hope to fill out” the administration’s agenda “with major rules on greenhouse gases, the oil and natural gas sectors, coal production, and other policy priorities.”

The Daily Caller (5/22, Bastasch) characterized the release of the administration’s “spring regulatory agenda” — containing “more than 2,300 regulations in various stages of planning” — as being done “stealthily” on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. “While this spring’s regulatory agenda has fewer regulations than the agenda from last fall,” the latest plan “includes what could be the costliest regulation in U.S. history: the EPA’s proposed national ozone standard.” The Daily Caller cited a NAM study that found that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to lower the acceptable threshold for ground-level ozone to between 65 and 70 parts per billion “could cost $140 billion per year,” translating to “$1.7 trillion between 2017 and 2040.”

Newsmax (5/22, Coren) also questioned the timing of the release of the Spring 2015 Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan, and it noted that the same NAM study calculated that the stricter ozone regulation would “eliminate 1.4 million job equivalents per year.” In Newsmax’s words, the association has said that leaving the EPA’s current ozone standard in place would in itself “help improve air quality.”

The New Orleans Advocate (5/26, Roberts), reporting on unease among the mostly Republican congressional delegation from Louisiana over major components of the EPA’s regulatory agenda, quotes the NAM as saying the agency’s proposed tightening of the ozone standard could prove to be “the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public.” A “stricter rule,” the Advocate explains, “likely would force industry to install costly equipment to cut emissions.”

Coal Plant Shutdowns Predicted To Double Under EPA Climate Rule. The Hill (5/22, Cama) reported that, under the EPA’s “landmark” Clean Power Plan, closures of coal-fired power plants would more than double, according to projections published Friday by the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, or EIA. Carbon limits for power plants are projected by the EPA “to cause 90 gigawatts of coal plant capacity to retire by 2040 so that states can comply,” The Hill explained, noting that the estimate “is more than double the 40 gigawatts that the EIA … predicted would be shut down in that time period if it weren’t for the climate rule.” In addition, the EIA estimated that the new rule would cause electricity prices to increase by 4.9% “above what they would be without it.” The Hill cited an “industry-commissioned report” by NERA Economic Consulting in 2014 as concluding that the EPA’s rule “could cost at least $366 billion over 15 years, and could cost businesses and consumers $41 billion annually” while prompting the shutdown of “at least 45 gigawatts of coal-fired generating capacity.”

Environment & Energy Publishing (5/22, Holden, Juliano, Quinones, Subscription Publication) cited Friday’s EIA report as saying the EPA proposal “would require ‘significant investment’ to handle rapidly growing supplies of wind, solar and other renewable sources of energy.” That investment, along with “the increased use of natural gas,” would force prices higher, according to the EIA.

Obama Administration Expected To Announce New Clean Water Regulation. In the coming days, the New York Times (5/23, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reported, the administration is expected “to announce a major clean water regulation that would restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands.” Although “environmentalists have praised the new rule,” the regulation “has attracted fierce opposition from several business interests, including farmers, property developers, fertilizer and pesticide makers, oil and gas producers and a national association of golf course owners.” Those opposing the forthcoming rule say it “would stifle economic growth and intrude on property owners’ rights,” according to the Times.

EPA Rolls Back Exemptions Granted To Industrial Facilities In 36 States. On Friday, the EPA told 36 states that it was rolling back exemptions granted “to industrial facilities, allowing them to exceed pollution limits during the unusual stages without fines or other penalties,” The Hill (5/22, Cama) reports. In the regulation, the EPA told the states “to change their plans implementing air pollution standards in order to prohibit the spikes in emissions of substances like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.”