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EPA proposes repeal of Obama Clean Power Plan

10 October 2017

As anticipated, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), proposing to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Released in 2015 by the Obama Administration EPA, the CPP established the first national standards to limit CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants (Electric Generating Units, EGUs), with a target of a 32% reduction against a 2005 baseline by 2030. (Earlier post.)

The Trump Administration EPA has proposed to determine that the Obama-era regulation exceeds its statutory authority. EPA has now sent the NPRM to the Federal Register for publication. Upon publication, the public will have 60 days to submit comments.

In March, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Energy Independence, establishing a national policy in favor of energy independence and economic growth. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed four Federal Register notices in response to the EO, including a formal announcement of review of the Clean Power Plan. After review, the Agency has proposed to determine that the Clean Power Plan (CPP) must be repealed.

Broadly, the EPA is arguing that the CPP is inconsistent with the Clean Air Act. The CPP was issued pursuant to an expansive view of authority under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The CPP required regulated entities to take actions “outside the fence line.” Traditionally, EPA Section 111 rules were based on measures that could be applied to, for, and at a particular facility, also referred to as “inside the fence line” measures. Prior to the CPP being issued, every Section 111 rule on the books, including a handful of existing source rules and around 100 new-source rules, obeyed this limit. As the CPP departed from this traditional limit on EPA’s authority under an “inside the fence line” interpretation, EPA is proposing to repeal it.

The repeal package includes the “preamble,” which lays out the proposed legal interpretation, policy implications, and a summary of the cost-benefits analysis of the proposed repeal; and the “Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA),” an in-depth cost-benefit technical analysis.

The Trump administration estimates the proposed repeal could provide up to $33 billion in avoided compliance costs in 2030.

EPA argues that the previous administration’s estimates and analysis of these costs and benefits was, in multiple areas, highly uncertain and/or controversial. According to the Trump EPA, specific areas of controversy and/or uncertainty in the Obama EPA’s analysis of CPP include:

  • Domestic versus global climate benefits: The previous administration compared US costs to an estimate of supposed global benefits, and failed to follow well-established economic procedures in estimating those benefits.

  • “Co-benefits” from non-greenhouse-gas pollutants: The Obama administration relied heavily on reductions in other pollutants emitted by power plants, essentially hiding the true net cost of the CPP by claiming benefits from reducing pollutants that had nothing to do with the rule’s stated purpose.

  • Energy cost and savings accounting: The Obama administration counted “energy efficiency” results of their rule as an avoided cost, resulting in a cost estimate being considerably lower than it would have been if they used the appropriate practice of considering these effects as benefits, rather than subtracting them from costs. Had the Obama administration used the Office of Management and Budget’s longstanding requirements and accounted cost and savings accordingly, it would have presented a more accurate accounting of the total cost of the CPP, the EPA said.

As part of the notice-and-comment process for this proposed repeal, EPA will continue this analysis and inform the public, as necessary, to get feedback on new modeling and other information. The final action on this proposed repeal will address the results of this ongoing work.

Immediate reactions to the announcement predictably ranged from the supportive to the outraged. API President and CEO Jack Gerard welcomed the action, and observed that even without the Clean Power Plan’s implementation, greenhouse gas emissions from power generation have dropped by 25% since 2005 due to the increased use of natural gas. He also noted that even as the US has become the world’s top producer and refiner of oil and natural gas, carbon emissions are near 25-year lows.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said that Trump and Pruitt “will go down in infamy for launching one of the most egregious attacks ever on public health, our climate, and the safety of every community in the United States.

EPA will accept comment on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Comments should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0355 and may be submitted online; by email; or by fax, mail, or courier.

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October 10, 2017 in Climate Change, Emissions, Power Generation, Regulations | Permalink | Comments (5)

Comments

The experience of policy uncertainty in Australia for the last decade has been a chilling effect on investment in generation investment leading power prices more than doubling.

The business community pleas have been ignored in favour of philosophically motivated political agendas.
Political parties have chosen to change or threaten to change the renewable energy target ground rules every three or four years with the election cycle (in reality more often ) as the party in power has changed leaders every two -three years and policy signals are changing every six months dependant on other factors such as opinion polls or the audience I.E. 'who is listening' if an election is coming up and so the politicians are in campaign mode pitching to the low waged and unemployed or an international audience be that a climate denial lobby 'think tank' or an expert science based conference or other world policy makers on the world stage at international treaty agreement gatherings such as Kyoto - Paris.

Without business confidence in future energy policy every sector of the economy has foundered. Business leaders have spelled large that many energy dependant companies have already left the country and investment decisions for most have been impossible for years.

As with many subjects high jacked for political motives the need for policy differentiation means reality goes out the window and for every fact or observation the public are presented an opposing argument.

The economic risk from this type of political game play is no joke according to Australian business representatives.

I thought the P in EPA meant protection, not production.

Basically, the problem is all the U.S. politicians, both parties, are "on the take." In the current case, Trump and the Republicans were funded by fossil fuel election money with the promise they would work on behalf of the coal, oil and gas companies to weaken the pollution laws. What you see is blatant "Good Old Boy" Politics. Trump picked a fossil fuel Republican, Pence, for Vice President, who in turn helped him build a fossil fuel cabinet who in turn are working to weaken the Pollution laws...it's all working according to plan. The U.S. Central Government no longer works for the people..it is paid for and run by the richest 1%. There is a complete disconnect between what the people want and what the Central Government will allow them to have...Democracy? Nope! the U.S. is a country run by an financial oligarchy.

They use tactics like coal or jobs, or if we don't have more coal your power bills are going up dramatically. Those are distortions and lies, but for some people they work.

Statistically, renewables are more than just competitive - as far as price, efficiency, ecology and availability are concerned - compared to fossils (not to mention NPPs). All of us are so adapted to wasting energy at the expense of our environment that we have grown blind to what is actually happening around us.
Hardly anyone considers that established forms of energy production have had time for over a century to develop. It is not possible to close that time gap with renewables within a few years.
Trump and associates are wasting that valuable time to make the a. m. time gap ever more critical.
Trump and his hand-picked cronies are mentally retarded Neanderthals that wish to make the stone age great again. They are not only an embarrassment for this once great nation but rather for the whole of humanity.

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