Air

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted the Trump Administration’s request to hold the Clean Power Plan (CPP) case in abeyance—for 60 days. The court also asked the parties to brief whether the case should be sent back to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which would, practically speaking, invalidate the rule. At 30-day intervals EPA must file status reports with the court.

The court didn’t explain its reasons but likely it is concerned President Trump’s March 28 executive order (EO) Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth means the demise of the version of the CPP the court has been considering. The EO calls for the “suspending, revising, or rescinding,” of the CPP, if appropriate after EPA review.

While President Trump’s executive order (EO) on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth merely calls for the “review” of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), it has been widely viewed as the President’s first step to dismantle President Obama’s signature climate change measure. The EO goes on to say after review the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules.”

Per the CPP by 2030 carbon pollution from the power sector is supposed to be 32 percent below 2005 levels. State-by-state targets are to be accomplished by increased production of renewable energy.

Experts discussed the legal arguments for and against the Clean Power Plan, or CPP, during a recent eCademy webcast, “What's Next? Legal Perspectives on the Clean Power Plan,” presented by CSG and the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies. 

Air regulators from more than 20 state and local agencies discussed the Clean Power Plan and its potential impact on states during the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies’ mid-year meeting April 28-29 in Columbia, South Carolina. Approximately 100 participants attended the event, which included presentations and panels on topics ranging from environmental justice to implementation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulfur dioxide, ozone and other pollutants to regulatory impact analyses.

On March 18, a group of 20 states asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the handling of implementation for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, regulation on power plants. A 2015 Supreme Court decision, Michigan v. EPA, held that EPA interpreted the Clean Air Act unreasonably when it “deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants” for its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS. Following the decision, the fate of the regulation was “remanded” to a lower court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which decided to keep the rule in effect while EPA developed a supplemental cost justification.

On Wednesday, March 9th, state regulators from across the country testified in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about the difficulties they face as co-regulators with federal agencies.

The Supreme Court has issued a stay preventing the Clean Power Plan regulations from going into effect until the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court if it chooses to, rules on the regulations.

The Clean Power Plan requires power plants to reduce carbon emissions and establishes state-by-state targets to accomplish this goal.

The Clean Power Plan

On Aug. 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan, which is expected to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule sets target emissions reductions for states and states are responsible for designing their own plans to meet these emissions reductions targets...

CSG Director of Energy and Environmental Policy Liz Edmondson outlines the top five issues for 2016, including the Clean Power Plan, the rise of U.S. natural gas production, water quality and quantity, the use of science-based decision making, and electricity transmission and grid reliability. 

Adjusting to federal government regulations relating to climate change will require meaningful coordination between state legislators, state energy and regulatory agencies, and the regulated community. This session provided an overview of what state legislators need to know about these recent regulatory changes, their anticipated impacts on the states and how state officials can work together to address recent EPA regulations.

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