States press EPA for flexibility in power plant climate rules

Source: By Ben Geman, The • Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013

State power regulators are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to give states plenty of leeway to decide how they will meet upcoming carbon emissions standards for existing power plants.

The National Association of State Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) adopted a resolution Wednesday calling on the EPA to recognize the “primacy” of states to “lead the creation of emission performance systems that reflect the policies, energy needs, resource mix, economic conditions of each State and region.”

President Obama in June told the EPA to release draft federal emissions rules for existing power plants in June 2014 and complete them a year later. States would have until mid-2016 to submit plans to the EPA to implement the mandate.

The rules are aimed largely at tackling carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, the single largest unregulated source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

The state officials are basically pressing the EPA to take an expansive view of Clean Air Act section 111(d), which hands states an important role in crafting plans to meet federal emissions requirements for existing pollution sources.

“[T]he guidelines should be flexible enough to allow States individually or regionally to take into account, when establishing standards of performance, the different makeup of existing power generation in each State and region,” the NARUC resolution states.

“[T]he guidelines should provide sufficiently flexible compliance pathways or mechanisms that recognize State and regional variations to achieve the most cost-effective emissions reductions in each State,” it adds.

The lengthy resolution also urges the EPA to “recognize any and all existing State emission reduction programs”; avoid meddling in state “resource planning”; and steer clear of mandating “specific modifications to the mix of fuels and resources in existing and future State generation portfolios.”