Is Presumed EPA Nominee Trustworthy?

by Anthony Ward on February 26, 2013

in Blog, Features

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The Washington Post reports that the President is poised to nominate Gina McCarthy to succeed Lisa Jackson (a.k.a. “Richard Windsor”) as EPA administrator. If/when the Senate takes up her confirmation, lawmakers should know that McCarthy, the current chief of Air Regulation at the EPA, has a history of misleading Congress and the public on two of EPA’s most expensive regulations.

As CEI Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis points out in a 2011 editorial:

[McCarthy and other EPA officials] denied under oath that motor vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards are “related to” fuel economy standards. In so doing, they denied plain facts they must know to be true. They lied to Congress.

He elaborates:

That greenhouse gas emission standards implicitly regulate fuel economy is evident from the agencies’ own documents. As EPA and NHTSA acknowledge in their joint May 2010 Greenhouse Gas/Fuel Economy Tailpipe Rule (pp. 25424, 25327), no commercially available technologies exist to capture or filter out carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from motor vehicles. Consequently, the only way to decrease grams of CO2 per mile is to reduce fuel consumption per mile — that is, increase fuel economy. Carbon dioxide constitutes 94.9% of vehicular greenhouse gas emissions, and “there is a single pool of technologies… that reduce fuel consumption and thereby CO2 emissions as well.”

That’s not the only time she’s willfully confused the public on a major regulation.

In a 2010 Greenwire article (subscription required) titled, “Air Chief Sees Greater Efficiency, But Not Fuel-switching, Ahead for Utilities,” McCarthy was reported as having said that EPA wouldn’t use its greenhouse gas regulations to mandate fuel switching from coal to gas or renewables.  “We haven’t done [fuel switching] in the past, and there’s been good reason why we haven’t done [fuel switching] in the past,” she told an audience.

This assertion was belied in March 2012, when EPA proposed the Carbon Pollution Standard. This regulation would establish that the best system of controlling greenhouse gases emitted by a new coal fired power plant is…to become a natural gas plant.

Marlo explained this “bait-and-fuel-switch” tactic in a previous post:

Under the proposed standard, new fossil-fuel power plants may emit no more than 1,000 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt hour. About 95% of all natural gas combined cycle power plants already meet the standard (p. 115). No existing coal power plants come close; even the most efficient, on average, emit 1,800 lbs CO2/MWh . Because carbon capture and storage (CCS) is prohibitively expensive, raising the cost of a conventional coal plant by 80%, the only feasible way for a new coal power plant to comply is to be something other than what it is — a natural gas power plant.

The record speaks for itself: McCarthy has been duplicitous on fuel-switching and emissions standards. Sounds like she’ll fit right in with the most open, transparent administration ever.

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