EPA adds 60 days to comment period on power plant proposal

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014

U.S. EPA has extended the public comment period by two months to May 9 for the proposed carbon dioxide rule for new power plants.
The agency gave no explanation for its decision to extend the comment period from March 10.The proposal was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 8, months after its release. Some onlookers attributed that delay to last-minute concerns at EPA about the legality of a proposed mandate that all new coal-fired power plants use carbon capture and storage technology to limit emissions, but the agency put it down to a work backlog caused by October’s federal government shutdown. The proposal was published with no significant changes.

The comment period extension comes as the House prepares to vote on a bill, H.R. 3826, that would scrap the proposal and prevent EPA from moving forward on a rule for existing power plants without congressional approval.

The House will begin debate on the measure by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) this afternoon, with a vote expected tomorrow.

The White House has said President Obama would veto the Whitfield bill.

The proposal also comes after EPA released a supplementary document Feb. 6 that provided its justification for why it did not violate existing law when basing the CCS mandate in part on federally funded projects. That document must also undergo a 60-day public comment period, and it might have contributed to the agency’s decision to provide an extension for the full proposal (E&ENews PM, Feb. 6).