EPA won’t replace climate rule until 2019

Source: Niina Heikkinen, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, July 30, 2018

EPA will not complete a replacement for the Clean Power Plan until at least early next year, new court filings show.

The agency told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit it was “hoping” to take its next step toward replacing the rule in August, before proceeding with additional steps in the rulemaking. EPA is waiting for the White House to weigh in on its draft proposal, the agency said.

“The Clean Power Plan replacement rulemaking is a high priority for the Agency, and EPA is committed to completing it as expeditiously as practicable,” EPA wrote in a status report submitted to the court yesterday afternoon.

The latest timeline comes as EPA’s acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, has committed to continuing the regulatory priorities set out by the Trump administration. The agency is facing heightened pressure from the D.C. Circuit to show progress in rewriting the regulation.

The communication with the court is part of the periodic updates required by D.C. Circuit judges.

EPA sent a draft notice of proposed rulemaking to the White House Office of Management and Budget on July 9. The agency noted that the review process can take up to 90 days, and it asked for an expedited review. After the White House reviews the draft, EPA plans to publish the notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register by “late summer, or early fall.” EPA estimated it would not be able to “take final action” on the notice until the beginning of next year.

The latest court update comes after two judges informed the agency in June they would not vote to extend the abeyance on the case. A third judge also noted concerns about indefinitely delaying litigation (Greenwire, June 26).

Yesterday, EPA asked the court to again keep the case in abeyance as it continued to make progress on developing a replacement for the rule.