Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Clean Power plan uniform standards not sitting well with coal-heavy states

Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy told a Washington, D.C., audience on Tuesday that the agency's Clean Power plan standards "guarantee equity and fairness across the board," Jean Chemnick and Emily Holden report for EnergyWire. "States with more coal power than natural gas disagreed, seeing themselves on the losing end of the new calculations."

One problem is the way EPA calculated its final regulations to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions, Chemnick and Holden write. "Many coal-heavy states originally faced relatively lax targets, based on a formula EPA had devised to account for current clean energy policies and infrastructure. But the draft rule's algorithm was left on the cutting room floor and replaced by uniform standards applied directly to fossil-fuel power plants, no matter where they're located—771 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour of power for natural gas plants, and 1,305 pounds of CO2/MWh for coal or oil plants."

"The result of the new math is stricter goals for the coal-reliant Midwest, Appalachian and Rust Belt regions—areas that weren't fans of EPA's bid to curb emissions anyway," Chemnick and Holden write. "Meanwhile, states with cleaner power fleets got some relief. Many find themselves easily within reach of targets or with room to grow mass emissions of CO2 between 2012 and 2030. Those early movers have the happy choice of either selling credits back to the power market or setting them aside as further contributions to climate change mitigation."

"The changes are likely to further entrench states supporting and opposing the rule, fueling political and legal pushback from some that had previously avoided taking sides," Chemnick and Holden write. "They also may affect which states work together to reach targets." Bill Bumpers, a partner at law firm Baker Botts LLP, "estimated that 22 to 26 states are looking at suing, and he said the decision is 'more political than practical.' Soon after the final rule came out, 16 state attorneys general asked EPA to stall the rule, pending judicial review." (Read more) (EnergyWire map)

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