POWER PLAN HUB

With 2 weeks to oral arguments, EPA rule events begin anew

Clean Power Plan events are picking up this week as energy insiders look ahead to oral arguments in two weeks on the legal challenges to the rule.

Before lawyers face off before an en banc hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Sept. 27, a number of groups are reviewing power-sector data and holding backgrounders on the court battles.

In Atlanta tomorrow, three of the main organizations that have been spearheading multistate talks on the regulation will hold a workshop to review electric-sector trends in the Eastern Interconnection. The Great Plains Institute, the Bipartisan Policy Center and Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions are hosting the event.

More than 200 people are expected to attend, including officials and regulators from a range of states, as well as industry representatives and nongovernmental organizations, said Michael Dowd, the air chief for Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality who will speak on an afternoon panel.

Dowd said the talks are useful even if the Clean Power Plan doesn't move forward in the face of legal challenges.

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"There will eventually be carbon regulation, and the modeling that's being done now is addressing big picture items," Dowd said. "It's important as we address any broad options for carbon going forward in the coming years."

Dowd's boss, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), wanted to move forward on CPP planning, but the Virginia General Assembly passed a measure preventing spending on rule preparations. Still, Dowd said that prohibition "does not extend to keeping smart."

"We're following the modeling. We want to stay on top of what other people are thinking and what smart people are doing," Dowd said.

Panels will look at power-system modeling that shows the United States as a whole is largely on track to comply with the Clean Power Plan's aggregate goals.

Atlanta-based EnergyWire reporter Kristi E. Swartz will cover the workshop. A webcast is also available.

Today in Washington, D.C., the Brookings Institution will hold an event titled "Clean power: Public opinion, the courts and where we go from here."

Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy, will present results of a new survey of public support for policies ranging from the CPP and carbon pricing to U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement. Following his remarks, former EPA Administrator William Reilly will be among those discussing U.S. clean energy initiatives.

Tomorrow in D.C., the Federalist Society will host a "Clean Power Plan Goes to Court" discussion at the National Press Club. The event will have experts debate the arguments made in the various briefs and those expected at oral argument.

Participating will be David Bookbinder of Element VI Consulting; David Doniger, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate and clean air program; Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who is suing EPA; and David Rivkin, a partner with Baker Hostetler LLP's D.C. office.

In case you missed it:

  • Two former Obama administration officials went toe to toe last week, debating whether U.S. EPA has "gone overboard" with the president's signature climate rule. After the vigorous debate, an audience of students, academics and policy wonks gathered in an auditorium on George Washington University's campus and voted 25 percent that EPA had gone overboard, while 71 percent disagreed (Greenwire, Sept. 8).
  • Yvette Pena-O'Sullivan, assistant director for legislation and politics at the Laborers' International Union of North America, explains how the union's Clean Power Progress campaign is focused on state-by-state advocacy of natural gas infrastructure development to help meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan (OnPoint, Sept. 8).
  • Expected coal plant retirements in Michigan could make it relatively straightforward for the state to meet federal climate regulations, according to a study by the Electric Power Research Institute. The state is in "very good shape to comply" if the expected coal plant retirements go forward, said David Young, a principal author of the EPRI analysis (ClimateWire, Sept. 8).
  • Attorneys general from Republican-led states met with energy executives at West Virginia's Greenbrier resort less than two weeks before they filed a lawsuit last year aimed at halting EPA's rule for curbing greenhouse gases from power plants. The closed-door meetings took place last August at a four-day summit hosted by the Republican Attorneys General Association, according to an agenda obtained by a watchdog group using public records requests (Greenwire, Sept. 7).
  • The CEO of Missouri River Energy Services, which manages the electric generation and transmission for 61 rural communities spread across hundreds of square miles in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, says his agency "can't just sit by and twiddle our thumbs and hope that the thing blows up," referring to the Clean Power Plan (EnergyWire, Sept. 6).

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