Battle Lines Drawn in Planned US Repeal of Clean-Power Rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to roll back the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Power Plan, meant to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. The EPA claims the CPP exceeded statutory authority. Opponents say they will sue to stop what they say is a straight repeal.
CPP requires changes to state energy policies, such as a grid-wide shift from coal-fired to natural gas-fired generation and from fossil generation to renewable generation, rather than better equipping existing plants, the repeal says. “The previous administration was using EPA to pick winners and losers in how we generate electricity,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Oct. 8. “The war against coal is dead.” Comments on the repeal proposal are due in 60 days, and public hearings may follow.
While EPA plans to repeal CPP in its entirety, it has not determined whether it will issue a new rule to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. The EPA plans to solicit information on systems to reduce emissions that comport with its own interpretation of its statutory authority, which is to limit emission reduction to individual stationary sources, the repeal says.
“So far, this is a straight repeal, and there will be a lot of litigation over that. They won’t get away with repeal and no replace,” says Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, noting that the U.S. Supreme Court has said greenhouse gases are a pollutant and can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
The rule has been tied up in court since it was issued and has yet to be implemented, but many states and utilities have been making progress toward meeting its requirements, with low-cost natural gas a contributing factor. Developer Luminant on Oct 6 said it would retire an 1,800-MW coal-fired plant in Texas because of low power prices. It is the 259th coal plant to retire since 2010 and evidence of an unstoppable shift from coal to clean energy, according to the Sierra Club. California is on track to reduce emissions 33% by 2020, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said after learning of the repeal.