Luminant launches campaign against EPA

Texas’ largest energy producer, Dallas-based Luminant, has launched an online campaign against a new federal rule that the company says will force the closing of units at one of its coal-fired power plants and three nearby mines.

Luminant’s new website,, takes aim at the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which requires aging power plants in 27 states to install modern pollution controls to sharply cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by Jan. 1. The company filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency to block the rule, saying the deadline is impossible to meet.

The website asks:

“What if you had to train for a marathon in just one month? Build a brand-new house in a few short weeks? Put four years of high school or college into just one? Major projects take time.”

It asserts that the EPA rules sets an unreasonable timeline, threatens electric reliability, ignores bipartisan concerns and is unfair to Texas. The site then provides a form letter in opposition to the rule that will be sent to your senator and congressman with one easy click.

In an unusual move, the EPA has answered each point on Luminant’s website, which the agency says contains “inaccuracies and unfortunate scare tactics.” 

Here’s the verbatim blow-by-blow:

Luminant: The standard timeframe for permitting, constructing and installing major new emissions controls is several years, yet the rule unrealistically allows less than six months to comply. Thus, curtailing plant and/or Texas mine operations will be the only short-term compliance option.

EPA:Luminant has known since 2005, when the Bush Administration issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) that they would need to comply with the Clean Air Act.  Since 2005, Luminant has made business decisions to comply with a rule that is very similar to what EPA announced in July – staying within pollution limits without needing to make serious investments in pollution controls at several facilities.

In fact, the company has until March 1, 2013 to comply with the annual emission reduction provisions in the rule. So, while the time between finalization of the rule and the beginning of the program on January 1, 2012 is relatively brief, sources actually have a much longer time to transition and to make the necessary allowance trades.

Rather than continuing their previous efforts at complying with CAIR and its important health safeguards, and despite EPA’s repeated pledges to work with them in finding an agreeable path to cutting pollution, Luminant made the choice to lay off workers and idle facilities.

Luminant: Curtailing or ceasing operations at these power plants will mean less power provided to the Texas electricity grid and the risk of power shortages.   

EPA: In its 40-year history, there have been no instances in which the Clean Air Act has contributed to electric grid reliability problems. The successful history of this law demonstrates that we can reduce harmful air pollution while ensuring the reliable delivery of electricity to our families and businesses.

As recently as Sunday, September 11, EPA offered to share additional information that shows the potential for a no-shut down, no-layoff solution for statewide compliance. It is unfortunate that company leadership rushed to a decision that needlessly puts their workers’ jobs at risk.

Luminant: A large and bipartisan contingent of Texas leaders expressed grave concerns about the rule, the fairness of the process and its adverse effects on jobs, prices and reliability in Texas.  

EPA: Before issuing the new rule, EPA explicitly requested and received extensive comments from Texas sources of pollution, regulators, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and then updated its data and modeling based on those comments.         

EPA provided the fullest possible public participation in the development of CSAPR.  EPA held three public hearings on the proposed rule and also issued three notices of data availability to provide additional opportunities for public comment.

Luminant: Prior to issuing the final rule in July, the EPA never actually proposed including Texas in the annual emissions limit program, and never provided any proposed annual limit for Texas.

EPA: Again, Texas was included in and, for the past five years, has been complying with the previous air transport rule (CAIR), a program started by the previous administration, and one that they complied with in a way that is also available to them under these standards.

Texas points out, we did propose to take them out of the program – at the same time, we requested comment on whether doing so would result in significant increases in SO2 emissions from Texas. After considering TCEQ’s comments on the proposal – which prompted changes in EPA’s emission s projections – EPA concluded that significant increases in SO2 emissions would result if they were not included in this rule.