January 8, 2015

For States That Don’t File Carbon-Cutting Plans, EPA Will Impose ‘Model Rule’

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January 8, 2015 | The New York Times | Coral Davenport

The Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan is likely to be one of the key energy battles this year. The administration has come up with two different sets of rules aimed at reducing carbon emissions from power plants. One rule that would pertain to future power plants was due to be released this week; a second rule concerning existing power plants was scheduled to be released in its final form in June. However, the administration has decided that both plans will be released together at some point next summer.

The rules are at the heart of the energy battle in Congress. Republicans have called it a “war on coal” and have sued the Environmental Protection Agency to stop implementation. A number of states, especially ones where coal has dominated, have vowed to not supply the EPA with a plan on how they will cut their carbon emissions. Now the New York Times is reporting that the federal government will devise a “model rule” that they will impose upon states who refuse to come up with their own compliance plan. The requirements have the potential to shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country. Janet McCabe, the EPA’s top climate change official, told the Times:

“We certainly hope that every state feels like it’s in their best interest to create a plan. But we have an obligation under the Clean Air Act, should there be states that don’t submit plans, to be sure we’re ready.”

The “model rule” proposal was widely criticized by opponents of the carbon cutting plan, including Mike Duncan, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity:

“Rather than looking to work together to reach common-sense and practical energy guidelines in 2015, the administration is doubling down on its climate crusade at the expense of our economy and our people.”

One reason the administration gave for delaying the release of final rules was the sheer number of public comments they received on the draft rules. Most EPA rules receive a few thousand comments; these rules received more than four million public comments, indicating the importance and potential impact of these rules.

Inside Energy is in the process of analyzing thousands of these comments and will post that analysis soon.