EPA to release multiple power sector rules next week

Source: By Jean Chemnick, E&E News • Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Up to four regulations would cover a variety of pollutants including carbon dioxide.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan at the White House last year.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan is leading the administration’s climate efforts on power plants. Andrew Harnik/AP

The Biden administration’s wide-ranging power plant strategy could culminate next week with the release of as many as four EPA rules targeting carbon, air pollution and waste from fossil fuels generation.

Four people familiar with the administration’s plans told E&E News that EPA is expected to roll out three or four rules together late next week, potentially bringing to a close President Joe Biden’s first-term push to clean up the power sector. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details about the announcement.

The White House finished reviewing EPA’s update to power plant air toxics standards earlier this month. The Office of Management and Budget is still looking at three others, including a rule to cut carbon emissions at future gas-fired and existing coal-fired power plants as well as rules governing wastewaterand solid combustion waste from coal plants.

All of those rules were sent to OMB in March, and the White House website shows that stakeholder meetings are scheduled for some of them beyond next Thursday — when EPA is expected to release its package. The administration has the discretion to cancel meetings and release rules before hearing from some stakeholders.

EPA told E&E News that it “cannot comment on plans for public announcements about any rulemaking while the interagency review process is still ongoing.”

From the earliest days of the Biden administration, EPA officials have signaled they plan to take a holistic approach to limiting pollution from coal- and gas-fired power plants. EPA Administrator Michael Regan previewed the strategy at an energy conference in Texas in March 2022, saying the goal was to give utilities “certainty and transparency” about the agency’s upcoming requirements.

The flurry of activity comes as the Biden administration rushes to complete rulemakings ahead of a deadline in May or June, after which rules become vulnerable to reversal by a Republican-controlled White House and Congress under the Congressional Review Act. Such an action would not only kill the Biden administration rule but make it impossible for future administrations to promulgate a similar rule without new congressional authorization.

Reporter Sean Reilly contributed.