As many states move forward with Clean Power Plan compliance planning, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies this month released guidance for states that includes model plans and pathways for compliance. During today's OnPoint, William Becker, the group's executive director, explains how states can use NACAA's compliance recommendations to create effective frameworks for U.S. EPA approval, should the power plan be upheld by the courts.
Monica Trauzzi: Hello, and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. With me today is William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Bill, thank you so much for coming back on the show.
William Becker: Thanks, Monica. It's great to be back.
Monica Trauzzi: Bill, your organization recently released a report that outlines model state plans to support Clean Power Plan implementation. Considering that the rule has been stayed by the Supreme Court pending litigation, why did you feel that now is an appropriate time to release this guidance for states?
William Becker: Well, it was an appropriate time for several reasons. The first is we have no idea what the courts are going to do, and while EPA can't move forward on the rule, states are not prohibited from working on their own. Secondly, what we are finding is that a number of industries are taking advantage of this law in -- during the stay and are actually coming into state regulatory offices and seeking input and also trying to convince the state regulatory agencies that there are economic opportunities for complying. And thirdly, even if the rule is overturned and the states are precluded from implementing the Clean Power Plan, there is enough meat on the bone in this report, there are enough options available for states who wish to use it totally separate and independent of the Clean Power Plan. So for all of those reasons, it was important to release it when we did.
Monica Trauzzi: So you think that despite the stay, states can take the recommendations made in this report to advance the individual discussions that are happening on the state levels on implementation.
William Becker: Absolutely, and the reason is as follows. We are not providing a mandate for the states. We are providing a model, and actually it's a series of models, it's a menu of models, and while there are some comprehensive model plans in Part 3 of the report, throughout the report there are over two dozen individual regulatory models that could be used as part of or separate from the Clean Power Plan, so there is literally regulatory language that a state or locality could incorporate into its strategy irrespective of the Clean Power Plan.
Monica Trauzzi: What assurances can you give states who may follow one of the pathways you provide in the report that it will be approved by EPA should the plan stay in place?
William Becker: So we can give no assurance that EPA has reviewed this because they haven't, but what we can assure the states is this was written by a very smart technical consultant who used to be an air pollution official from the state of Louisiana. Second, we had a group of 25 state and local members on a steering committee who reviewed this work. Third, many of the ideas were derived from discussions that we had with NASEO and NARUC, our partners in state regulatory development. And fourth, the members of our association are very, very smart, and they will determine very quickly the extent to which this should be approvable, and they'll work through the process as they do other plan submittals and try to seek approval from the regions and then from headquarters if necessary.
Monica Trauzzi: So you're in favor of states continuing to work on implementation.
William Becker: We're in favor of giving states the choice. We are totally understand and mindful of the fact that politically some states aren't able to continue during this stay period, but there are many states who are taking advantage of this opportunity and learning more and trying to be prepared in case the stay is overturned, and we think that the states will use this time very wisely and be prepared should the stay be overturned.
Monica Trauzzi: And do you think that those states who are working right now and potentially using the guidance that you're providing in this report, do they have an advantage over the states who have halted action on implementation?
William Becker: Well, they have an advantage in that if they seek to learn the details of the model during this stay, they will be better prepared at the time if the stay is overturned. There will be more catching up for those states that are putting pencils down and not doing anything. You know, unless a governor or a state legislature has tied the hands of a state, I can't see a scenario why a state wouldn't want to proceed, maybe at a slower pace, perhaps not advertise what it's doing, go to meetings, meet with stakeholders, but be smarter in the process so that if and when the stay is overturned or the state decides to go on its own in reducing greenhouse gases, it'll be that much smarter than it otherwise would have been.
Monica Trauzzi: Is your sense that even in the states where compliance discussions have been halted, at least publicly stated that they've been halted, that behind-the-scenes discussions are still happening?
William Becker: Absolutely. I've seen estimates that there have been, you know, three-quarters or more of the states who are still moving ahead, perhaps not full speed ahead, but they're moving ahead, and they're doing so, as I said, not just because they think it's important, but because other stakeholders want to take advantage of that. So I think that most of the states would love to move ahead, but for in a few states, the governor or the state legislature has forbade it.
Monica Trauzzi: Well, because they don't think it's in the best interest of their state.
William Becker: They don't.
Monica Trauzzi: All right. We'll end it right there. Thank you for coming on the show. Nice to see you.
William Becker: You also. Thank you.
Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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