The EPA wants public input for a possible replacement of the controversial Obama-era regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
The agency issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking today, kicking off a 60-day comment period on “specific topics for the Agency to consider in developing any subsequent proposed rule,” beginning as soon as the documentation is published in the Federal Register.
The notice specifically asks for comment on measures to reduce carbon emissions directly at individual power plants and on the role states should play in regulating power plants for greenhouse gas emissions.
The original plan would have required states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. However, that plan never went into effect because the Supreme Court stayed the rule as it made its way through the courts.
The notice comes about two months after the EPA formally proposed a repeal of the Clean Power Plan. The agency said the final rule to repeal the CPP now is set for next October.
Testifying before a House hearing earlier this month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt officially signaled that he was planning to not just kill the rule outright, but to seek a replacement.
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson supported the move.
“We are pleased that EPA has taken this necessary step to replace the Clean Power Plan," he said. "America’s electric cooperatives support the development of a common-sense, durable policy that is focused on improvements that are specific to each electric-generating unit. This approach is consistent with decades of policy precedent and would produce greater regulatory certainty for electric cooperatives and their members.
“At its core, the regulation should maintain electric reliability and minimize the economic impact on consumers. We look forward to working with EPA on a rulemaking that achieves these critical goals,” Matheson said in a statement.
Environmental groups, however, were critical of the Trump administration's plan. Earthjustice, an environmental nonprofit that represents environmental groups in litigation, said Pruitt has not firmly signaled he plans to replace the CPP with something new. The notice released by the agency says EPA "is considering proposing emission guidelines to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing electric utility generating units (EGUs) and is soliciting information on the proper respective roles of the state and federal governments in that process, as well as information on systems of emission reduction that are applicable at or to an existing EGU, information on compliance measures, and information on state planning requirements under the Clean Air Act."
"Though the law says EPA must move forward to curb the carbon pollution that is fueling climate change, the agency is stubbornly marching backwards," Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen said. "Even as EPA actively works towards finalizing its misguided October proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, EPA today indicates it may not put anything at all in the plan's place – or may delay for years and issue a do-nothing substitute that won't make meaningful cuts in the carbon pollution that's driving dangerous climate change."