POWER PLAN HUB

Air agencies' chief has bold prediction should EPA climate rule fall

The longtime Washington chief of the association of state and local air pollution agencies has a bold prediction as to what will happen should U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan ultimately be vacated.

States such as California and the members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, along with numerous large cities and counties, will move ahead with their own programs to curb greenhouse gas emissions, said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

And that "patchwork quilt of greenhouse gas reduction programs at the state and local level will trigger a rush — ironically, by the same opponents [of the Clean Power Plan] — to EPA and to Congress to sort this out," Becker said last week at a forum sponsored by the American Council on Renewable Energy.

Regulated electric utilities, the largest of which operate in multiple states, will "come forward and make the case for a federal program," he said.

While the Supreme Court stay of the Clean Power Plan could be in place well into 2017, if not early 2018, two-thirds of the states "are either moving full speed ahead or are moving directionally ahead but maybe slowing down their pace a bit" toward possible compliance with the rule, Becker said.

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And even in states that are suing to stop the EPA rule, some governors are directing their staffs "to continue some of the discussions, to continue doing analysis and to try to be prepared to comply," he said.

By Becker's count, there are nine or 10 states that "from the get-go are already meeting their 2030 mass-based targets" under the rule.

"About 30 states are more than halfway toward meeting their 2022 interim targets, and 20 states are already more than halfway toward meeting their 2030 final targets," he said.

While the CPP's requirements are "tough for many states, they are not nearly as onerous as opponents are suggesting," Becker said.

Tonight in Washington, the University of Chicago Energy Policy Institute will host a panel discussion on what impact the Supreme Court's recent stay could have on the Clean Power Plan and its potential effects on energy producers, prices, markets and the environment.

On Tuesday, two House of Representatives subcommittees will hold hearings on EPA's budget request, and the back-and-forth undoubtedly will touch on the agency's controversial rule to cut carbon emissions from power plants. Administrator Gina McCarthy will be testifying. Greenwire's Amanda Reilly will be reporting.

Also on Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Air Quality Bureau will host an all-day stakeholder meeting in Des Moines that will feature modeling presentations by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, MidAmerican Energy, Alliant Energy, the American Wind Energy Association and the Electric Power Research Institute. EnergyWire's Jeffrey Tomich will be reporting.

In case you missed it:

  • EPA will respect the Supreme Court's stay of its climate rule, said acting EPA air chief Janet McCabe. But the agency will continue working out the details on some of the Clean Power Plan's more technical underpinnings to aid states that want to move forward with carbon emission reductions (ClimateWire, March 18).
  • The Clean Power Plan could force more coal plant retirements than initially expected in the nation's midsection, according to the most recent modeling by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (EnergyWire, March 17).
  • If Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland were confirmed by the Senate, his record indicates a positive view of EPA's climate rule (EnergyWire, March 17).
  • Missouri lawmakers are pushing legislation to prohibit the state from planning for the Obama administration's climate change regulation until the Supreme Court stay is lifted (ClimateWire, March 16).
  • Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy, says EPA used "unreasonable" assumptions in the climate rule (OnPoint, March 15).
  • Emails expose tension in Michigan between Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and his attorney general over federal climate change regulations (ClimateWire, March 14).

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