Are states following calls for regulators to "put their pencils down" on crafting Clean Power Plan compliance mechanisms? On today's The Cutting Edge, ClimateWire reporter Emily Holden breaks down the latest state reactions. She also discusses the emerging divide over carbon trading.
Monica Trauzzi: Welcome to The Cutting Edge. Are states following along with calls for regulators to put their pencils down on Clean Power Plan compliance mechanisms? ClimateWire's Emily Holden is here with the latest details on how states are reacting to last week's stay. Emily, a team of E&E reporters has been working to uncover what states are doing. Are they, in fact, putting their pencils down, or do we see many continuing with compliance?
Emily Holden: Well, according to our categories, about 17 states have halted their planning in some way, 10 are assessing and 20 are continuing what they're doing, but there are a lot of shades of that. So in Oklahoma, for example, the governor has issued an executive order saying there should be no official planning for the rule. That was last year. But we talked to an Energy and Environment secretary there who said he's still talking to the grid organizations. Southwest Power Pool is still engaging with stakeholders, while at the same time assisting the attorney general in a challenge to the rule.
Monica Trauzzi: So we see many states suspending their plans. Any surprises on that list?
Emily Holden: I think it's what you would expect. So it's 17 of the 27 states who are suing. The surprises are more that you have a couple of governors who are opposed to the rule who have said -- who are in red states who have said we want to keep planning anyway because we think that we need to have a backup plan, so Elizabeth Harball, my colleague, talked to Wyoming's governor, Matt Mead, who is a Republican, and he said basically he's thrilled with the stay, but this really just gives him more time to plan. At the same time, you have lawmakers in Wyoming who have said -- who are pushing a bill that would basically prohibit the state from spending money on planning, so it's clear that this is becoming politicized already.
Monica Trauzzi: And what have you learned in your reporting about the states who are still sort of assessing their options?
Emily Holden: It's about 10 right now, and it continues to be in flux, and our regional reporters will keep looking at that, but really I think it's more a matter of them not being prepared to say officially whether they're going to continue to plan or not. I think a lot of them probably have a sense of what they're doing.
Monica Trauzzi: Carbon trading is considered by most states to be an essential tool for complying with the power plan. Does that remain on the map?
Emily Holden: Definitely. In states like Virginia that are continuing their talks, that's still what they're looking at, and they're trying to figure out exactly what kind of trading they might want to pursue, and part of that question is who might their trading partners be. So that might be a little more complicated when you have states in some regions who are backing out, who are saying we don't want to be involved in those discussions anymore.
Monica Trauzzi: Why has a divide emerged among stakeholders on sort of merits of trading?
Emily Holden: Well, a story that we wrote this week with some help with Debra Kahn, our California reporter, looked into the environmental justice movement, and they have been really opposed to carbon trading because they have concerns that basically it could allow some coal plants to stay online in low-income communities and communities of people of color, and they're concerned that there could be co-pollutants because of that that continue, so things -- not carbon, but things like mercury, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter. And on the other side, you kind of have the major utilities and the mainstream environmental groups who've said there are ways to design programs that can ensure against this, and they're still saying that they think that carbon trading would be the most efficient way, the most cost-effective way to bring emissions down under this rule.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, Emily. Great reporting as always, and E&E will continue to update its Clean Power Plan Hub as well. Thank you for coming on the show.
Emily Holden: Thank you.
Monica Trauzzi: More Cutting Edge coming next Friday. We'll see you then.
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