Clean Power Plan to be fully terminated in 10 months

Source: Niina Heikkinen, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, December 18, 2017

For the first time, U.S. EPA has publicly released a timeline for its review and likely repeal of major climate regulations still on the books.

The announcement came as part of the release of the Trump administration’s overall regulatory agenda. In a news conference yesterday afternoon, President Trump touted efforts to roll back regulations.

“We’re lifting restrictions on American energy, and we’ve ended the war on coal. We have clean coal — beautiful, clean coal, another source of energy,” Trump said.

EPA highlighted its own efforts at rolling back regulations, noting in a press release the agency had taken 54 deregulatory actions in 2017.

“EPA’s plan balances its statutory requirements to issue regulations and its commitment to providing regulatory certainty through improvements to existing regulations that were flawed, outdated, ineffective, or unnecessarily burdensome,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

The agency appears to be a month behind schedule on its plans for deciding whether to replace the Clean Power Plan. According to the semiannual Unified Agenda released yesterday, EPA had planned to release an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in November. Earlier this week, the agency’s air chief, Bill Wehrum, said he hoped the document would be signed by the administrator in “a few days.” It’s unclear whether this delay will have an impact on the agency’s projection for the release of its notice of proposed rulemaking, currently slated for June 2018.

Meanwhile, the agency is moving forward with its plans for repealing the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants. EPA has suggested it will have a final rule ready in October 2018. The agency is proposing to narrowly consider the “best system of emissions reductions” as applying only to individual stationary sources. The Obama administration had sought to take a systemwide approach.

“The EPA believes that this interpretation is consistent with the CAA’s text, context, structure, purpose, and legislative history, as well as with the Agency’s historical understanding and exercise of its statutory authority,” the agenda read.

The Unified Agenda summary notes that repealing the CPP would avoid $33 billion in compliance costs but does not highlight potentially lost environmental or economic benefits of the rule.

In its overall summary of its planned actions related to power plant emissions, the agency mentions it is still reviewing EPA’s regulations for new and modified power plants. However, there is not a clear timeline in the near term for when that review would occur.

The agency is considering emissions controls on well sites and compressor stations, along with standards for pneumatic pumps and the requirement that a professional engineer certify closed vent system design capacity.

EPA plans to have a notice of proposed rulemaking out in August 2018 and to have a final rule in place by September 2019.

“The reconsidered rule is anticipated to streamline certain areas of the rule in an effort to reduce burden and improve implementation,” according to EPA’s agenda.