On Monday, President Obama will unveil the EPA’s new, tougher regulations on carbon emissions, especially those emitted by power plants. The Guardian reports the goal is as high as 25% lowering of carbon gas emissions. Since 40% of these carbon emissions are by power plants (such as PREPA) one can expect that the agency will be hit hard.
PREPA has to comply with recently put in effect regulations by 2015 on mercury emissions and it is not doing so It has asked for an extension but the EPA is worried the plan is not being implemented in a timely fashion (minute 2:30 on). Neither is PREPA complying with EPA requirements on renewable energy.
Although the new carbon emissions limits will take time to implement (there is no doubt they will be challenged in court), this will mean greater costs for PREPA’s aged and aging infrastructure. Considering that Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007) and EPA v. Emer Power City Generation, LLP, SCOTUS decided on April 29, 2014 indicate the agency may regulate these gases. We must wait, however, to see the outcome of Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency, was argued on February 24, 2014 at the SCOTUS and has the potential to change it all. Here is a view of the oral argument.
In synthesis, unless the SCOTUS changes the rules before June 30, PREPA is facing further environmental costs, which it can ill afford. What will happen is anyone’s guess.