EPA sends proposed Clean Power Plan rule replacement to White House

Source: Niina Heikkinen, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

EPA submitted its proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan to the White House yesterday, the same day Andrew Wheeler began work as the new temporary head of the agency.

The proposal to replace the Obama-era regulation on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants is now under review by the Office of Management and Budget.

Details of the proposal, “State Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Existing Electric Utility Generating Units,” are slim, but Wheeler is expected to follow much the same approach as his predecessor.

The rule is likely to be much less stringent than the Clean Power Plan, which would have cut carbon emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

An advance notice of proposed rulemaking published in December 2017 suggested the new administration was considering crafting a rule that would define emissions reductions at the facility level and would set guidelines for states to establish a system for addressing power plant CO2 releases.

Enesta Jones, an EPA press aide, said in an emailed statement that the agency drafted the proposal after reviewing comments on the December ANPRM. She added that more details of the proposal would be available after OMB review.

The New York Times reported last week the proposal would be heading to OMB imminently and would focus on cutting emissions through fuel sources and efficiency improvements.

Some EPA observers have suggested Wheeler may be more effective at unwinding the Clean Power Plan because he is more practiced in working through Washington, D.C., bureaucracy and is not distracted by more than a dozen federal investigations (Climatewire, July 10).

The proposal comes as litigation over the Clean Power Plan is still stalled in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The court has granted a number of stays in the case as the Trump administration has worked out whether it intended to eliminate the rule outright with or without a replacement.

Two judges on the court stated they would not approve further stays, suggesting there may have been added pressure on EPA to show progress in replacing the rule (Climatewire, June 27).

The agency is deviating somewhat from its proposed timeline for eliminating the Clean Power Plan, which it had intended to complete by the end of this year. An earlier regulatory calendar had stated the agency would release a proposal in June.