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.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plant was released Aug. 3 and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants by 32 percent from the 2005 levels by 2030. The plan promotes emissions trading among states by giving states the opportunity to design plans that allow their power plants to use out-of-state emissions reductions to achieve compliance.

Released Aug. 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan, designed under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. One of the key changes in the final Clean Power Plan was to promote cross-state emissions trading between states, including through the establishment of mass-based targets and “trading-ready” mechanisms. This free CSG eCademy webcast features experts who discuss state emissions trading options as well as federal plans for states that fail to submit a satisfactory state plan that embraces trading.

The Obama administration released the final version of the Clean Power Plan last week at a White House ceremony attended by a crowd of administration officials, members of Congress and environmental advocates. This highly anticipated plan is the first comprehensive federal rule to target carbon emissions from existing, new and modified power plants. It is touted as the most ambitious regulation ever aimed at combating climate change.

                In Michigan v. EPA the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted unreasonably in failing to consider cost when deciding whether regulating mercury emissions from power plants is “appropriate and necessary.” Twenty-three states challenged the regulations.

                The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate air pollution from stationary sources based on how much pollution the source emits. But EPA may only regulate emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants if it finds that regulation is “appropriate and necessary.” EPA found it “appropriate” to regulate mercury emissions because they pose a risk to human health and the environment and controls are available to reduce them. EPA found it “necessary” to regulate mercury emissions because other requirements in the Act did not eliminate these risks.

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