Clean Power v. Clean Energy

August 1, 2019

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On Wednesday, June 19, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a set of three final regulatory actions governing greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants.  These include (1) the final repeal of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) rule; (2) a new Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, “Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from Existing Electric Generating Units (EGUs);” and (3) procedural regulations governing the development and approval of state implementation plans, which will apply to the ACE rule and any future regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 111(d).  The ACE rule is scheduled to take effect September 6, 2019.

These final rules will face new legal challenges based on both the economic analysis and the statutory authority for EPA’s actions.  This Policy Insight briefly reviews some of the major issues likely to be in contention.

In the course of these rulemakings, I filed four Public Interest Comments, beginning in 2014 with the initial CPP proposal.  The final ACE rule is consistent with some of my recommendations:  for example, it imposes a constraint on emissions intensiveness rather than a fixed cap, and it measures climate benefits using a domestic Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) rather than a global one.  While it is satisfying to see EPA make changes that I recommended, I have to acknowledge that my four comments were among more than two million filed in the rulemaking docket.