EPA’s Clean Power Plan Repeal Notice Light on Details

WASHINGTON (CN) – Regulation of greenhouse gas emissions is not the domain of the Environmental Protection Agency according to the agency’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan, which was crafted by the Obama administration to reduce carbon pollution from 32 existing power plants by 2030, left states to devise their own proposals for the creation of renewable energy alternatives. It was stayed by the D.C. Circuit in August 2016 to allow several lawsuits challenging it to move forward.

The proposal to repeal the plan was published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. Despite its length — the entry fills 43 double-spaced pages in PDF form, the EPA says it “has not determined whether it will promulgate a rule … to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing electric utility generating units and if it will do so, when it will do so and what form that rule will take.”

Public comment on the repeal won’t be taken now, but may be considered “in the near future,” the notice said.

“Regulation of the nation’s generation mix is not within the agency’s authority,” the repeal said.

As a part of the proposed repeal, the EPA will also rescind emissions guidelines for existing electric utility generating rules.

“Generation shifting [or ramping up the use of clean natural gas or renewable energy in place of fossil fuel powered plant]  is accomplished through actions that owners or operators take on behalf of an affected source that might lead only indirectly to emissions reductions from the source,” the agency said.

Under the Clean Power Plan, owners and operators of plants are expected to purchase power from qualifying lower-emitting generators or invest in lower emitting generation, or purchase emissions credits.

“But none of these options involves a physical or operational change applicable to the source [of pollution] itself,” the repeal said.

While the repeal was light on specifics for the future, the agency was optimistic about the long term impacts of the change and repeatedly called previous estimates on pollution mitigation laid out under the Obama era rule as “forgone conclusions” containing “forgone benefits.”

“This action … is likely to have a significant effect on the supply and distribution or use of energy,” the repeal states. “In the Regulatory Impact Analysis [study] for the Clean Power Plan, estimates suggested the plan would have a one-to- two percent impact on retail electricity prices on average across the U.S. in 2025 and a 22 to 23 percent reduction in coal fired electricity generation.”

“A repeal of the Clean Power Plan would directionally have the opposite impact,” the notice said.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R.-Tx., – a long time critic of the Clean Power Plan who also chairs the Committee on Science, Space and Technology – hailed the EPA’s announcement.

“Today’s repeal of the so-called Clean Power Plan marks the next crucial step in a new era of transparency based on sound science. Through several hearings and oversight of the former administration’s overregulation, the Science Committee revealed the faulty, one-sided calculations that the Obama administration employed to justify its Clean Power Plan. We have repeatedly found that the costs imposed on the American people vastly outweigh the rule’s marginal benefits,” he said.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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