EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP): How Will it Work and Will it Be Upheld? [Powerpoint]

Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC April 8, 2015
Presented by Ken Colburn, Senior Associate

[Fierce Energy] …Ken Colburn, senior associate with the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), said the easiest part of the plan to implement will be the elimination of coal-fired generation. Citing UBS, Colburn explained that, current gas prices will “virtually [ensure] limited run times on coal plants,” leading to the retirement of those plants.

Colburn said that many aspects of the plan will be implemented naturally because many utilities are already looking toward the future — with 53 percent saying power storage should be an area their utility is involved in, and 71 percent saying that energy efficiency and demand response is something their utility should be involved in.

But he also explained how regional — rather than state — implementation might lead to more successful implementation results. Colburn said that larger “market” areas would create a lower cost for implementation, especially if they align with electricity control areas…

In the 1970s, the Clean Air Act (CAA) statute ran into numerous problems with implementation. The long journey the EPA and states have been on with CAA is an example of the long process they are about to go through with the CPP.

According to Michael Burger, executive director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, a lot can be learned from that example. Some of the issues they found were: planning addressed only local or regional problems, rather than global problems; numerical thresholds were much too low; and they were a poor fit with international mechanisms. It was also written for the purpose of pollution sources, not alternatives or consumption. In 2010, the EPA’s “Tailoring Rule” phased in CAA-permitting requirements for stationary sources of greenhouse gases (GHG).

As far as implementing the CPP plan, the EPA is in mostly unchartered waters. States are given the chance to implement the plan, and only if they fail will the EPA intercede to impose the federal plan. According to Colburn no one knows exactly what the federal plan will look like, but until relinquished, states have a “first crack” at their right to implement the CPP.


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