Former FERC official defend Obama carbon rule

Source: BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Monday, April 27, 2020

Eight former FERC commissioners and chairmen on Friday used a court brief to push back on EPA’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan, particularly a claim by the Trump administration that the Obama rule trampled on FERC’s jurisdiction. The Federal Power Act “does not give the Commission a license to block other agencies from using their own authorities simply because their regulations may affect wholesale rates,” they wrote in a “friend of the court” brief. EPA enjoys “expansive authority to regulate power sector air emissions.”

The commissioners also argued that the Obama rule’s fuel-switching mechanism leaned on established market trends that have held up in the real world. “The passage of time has demonstrated that the rule’s emission guidelines were based on reasonable, albeit conservative, projections of the potential for generation shifting to achieve cost-effective air pollution reductions.” Signatories include Charles B. Curtis, an independent who was FERC’s first chairman when it was created in 1977; Republican Commissioner Nora Mead Brownell; and six Democrats, including recent members like Norman Bay and Colette Honorable.

DEMOCRATS ALSO GOT IN ON THE ACTION, with 68 House members and six senators joining a brief arguing that the Obama power plant rule “was a lawful exercise of the authority” granted by the Clean Air Act. “EPA’s decision to reduce emissions in a way that is cost-effective and responsive to realities on the ground is exactly what Congress intended for EPA to do when it gave EPA flexibility to deal with an expansive array of pollutants,” they wrote. Expect to hear the opposite from congressional Republicans when pro-administration briefs are due in late June.