Clean Power Plan

EnergyWire's Kuckro talks legal, legislative challenges facing plan, previews McCabe sit-down

After nearly three months of anticipation, U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan was published in the Federal Register today. It's a significant step that tees up a series of legal and legislative challenges. On today's The Cutting Edge, EnergyWire reporter Rod Kuckro discusses the road ahead for the plan and previews his sit-down interview with acting EPA air chief Janet McCabe.


Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to The Cutting Edge. After months of anticipation, EPA's final Clean Power Plan hit the Federal Register today. It's a significant step that tees up a series of challenges. EnergyWire's Rod Kuckro joins me. Rod, in addition to making the final rule final, this now ushers in a period of legal and congressional action. What's the timeline that we're looking at on the legal aspects?

Rod Kuckro: Well, the law provides 60 days for people to sue, but only -- only about a half an hour ago, before -- before we were sitting down here, the 24 attorneys general announced their intention to sue, in addition to Oklahoma's going to sue separately. So -- and they're suing today. They're asking both for a stay of the rule, and they're also suing just on the merits and, to them, the merits are the rule is illegal.

Monica Trauzzi: Right. But many of these states are continuing forward with creating compliance mechanisms now.

Rod Kuckro: Ironically, yeah, the regulators are actually working on a pair of ... to actually try to comply with the rule.

Monica Trauzzi: Members of the House and Senate have already indicated that they plan to challenge the CPP through a range of legislative tools. What has teeth, though?

Rod Kuckro: Well, at the end of the day, really nothing has teeth, because anything they pass is subject to presidential veto. What -- the teeth that they are going to sort of show in their -- in their deliberations on the legislation is they're going to try to embarrass the administration in advance of the Paris talks on -- the U.N. talks on climate change. So next week, Senator McConnell will introduce the first bill. There'll be similar bills introduced in the House, and I think they'll try to move those before Thanksgiving.

Monica Trauzzi: More details as well this morning on the FIP, the federal implementation plan. What more do we know?

Rod Kuckro: Well, the FIP makes very clear to states that don't want to comply that they have two choices -- a rate-based trading program or a mass-based trading program. In any case, the federal government will impose a trading regime on states that don't comply. So the irony here is that the states that are the most critical to the plan, and that sort of decry the idea of cap and trade, if they don't play ball with EPA, that's what EPA's going to give them.

Monica Trauzzi: And this is just proposed at this point.

Rod Kuckro: Yes, it's proposed. It's out for 90-day comment period.

Monica Trauzzi: Earlier this week, you sat down with EPA air chief Janet McCabe. You'll have a story running in Monday's EnergyWire that really dives into the details of that conversation. She gave you, though, some interesting insight on the future of trading under the plan and EPA's oversight of it.

Rod Kuckro: That's true. The way she describes it is that the -- that the move to trading, both the state-to-state and region-to-region, was not EPA's idea. Now, whether that's entirely true or not, she claims the states themselves and the utilities have brought that forward because that's something they already know how to do under other EPA air rules. So essentially they want to do what they know how to do and they've done successfully. So that's why the latest iteration of the ... federal plan goes into such great detail on how a trading program's going to work.

Monica Trauzzi: The Clean Energy Incentive Program's gotten a lot of attention. What's new this week on it?

Rod Kuckro: What's new this week is EPA issued a document two days ago. It's on our website that goes into details for states. It lays out a series of conference calls that are going to occur amongst states, tribes, industry, local communities, and they go in -- there's a lot of detail about how states can take advantage of what essentially is going to be a bonus offered by EPA. It'll allow states to comply early with the Clean Power Plan in 2020 and 2021, and it's like getting extra credit on a high school test. States don't have to do it, it's not mandatory, but states that do do it will have a leg up.

Monica Trauzzi: And, of course, E&E's Power Plan Hub continues to be a critical resource for all stakeholders who are involved in the Clean Power Plan. What kinds of updates can we be expecting over the next few weeks?

Rod Kuckro: Well, we hope it's a resource people like to use. It certainly gets a lot of traffic. As of today, we have up the new -- the Federal Register rules that were published today. In addition, we'll be publishing on Monday a memo we obtained this morning that we still have to look at, but it's from EPA to the regional air administrators about how they can give guidance to states on doing early action. And then, of course, as the legal challenges are filed, our legal team will be posting not just stories, but all the various briefs that will be filed before the district court.

Monica Trauzzi: We'll be covering it all. Thanks, Rod.

Rod Kuckro: We will. Thanks.

Monica Trauzzi: More Cutting Edge coming next Friday. We'll see you then.

[End of Audio]



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