States Seek Flexibility in EPA Climate Regs

HAMM, GERMANY - MAY 23: Power lines lead away from the Kraftwerk Westfallen coal-burning power plant on May 23, 2011 in Hamm, Germany. The plant, operated by German utilities giant RWE Power AG, was originally built in the 1970s, though two new additions under construction as part of a modernization effort will increase the plant's output by 1,600 Megawatts for a total capacity of 1,884 Megawatts. The future of Germany's energy supply is currently a hot topic of political controversy. The government has pledged to hasten the country's withdrawal from nuclear energy and pledged support for renewable energy sources, including solar parks, wind turbine farms and biomass projects, yet burning coal is and will remain the main means of electricity production for at least many decades to come. 
National Journal
Clare Foran
Dec. 16, 2013, 12:44 p.m.

Though the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency won’t re­lease draft reg­u­la­tions to lim­it car­bon emis­sions from ex­ist­ing power plants un­til next sum­mer, states have already be­gun to weigh in on the rule-mak­ing.

Rep­res­ent­at­ives from 15 states, in­clud­ing Cali­for­nia, Con­necti­c­ut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Is­land, sent a let­ter to EPA Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy on Monday ask­ing for flex­ib­il­ity in im­ple­ment­ing the up­com­ing rules.

The let­ter touts emis­sions re­duc­tions already achieved in each of the states and asks EPA to al­low states to use a range of ex­ist­ing pro­grams to achieve car­bon cut­backs un­der the stand­ard. Fur­ther, the sig­nat­or­ies ask EPA to al­low states to take a broad-based ap­proach to cut­ting car­bon emis­sions, en­cour­aging policies that take the over­all en­ergy sec­tor and its makeup in­to ac­count with­in each state rather than deal­ing only with im­posed lim­its on in­di­vidu­al power plants.

“States have al­ways been the labor­at­or­ies of in­nov­a­tion,” Mary Nich­ols, chair of the Cali­for­nia Air Re­sources Board and one of the let­ter’s sign­ers, said in a state­ment. “We fully sup­port an ap­proach that al­lows states to de­vel­op their own pro­grams and use com­pre­hens­ive policy tools that im­prove the power sec­tor as a whole.” 

The let­ter comes as part of a wider push by states to in­flu­ence the rule­mak­ing ahead of its re­lease.

Earli­er in the month, mem­bers of the Re­gion­al Green­house Gas Ini­ti­at­ive, a co­ali­tion of states that have vol­un­tar­ily ad­op­ted re­gion­al power-plant emis­sion lim­its, penned a let­ter ask­ing the agency for lee­way in us­ing their cur­rent cap-and-trade policy as a way of achiev­ing the stand­ard when it de­buts.

In Novem­ber, the Na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Reg­u­lat­ory Util­ity Com­mis­sion­ers sim­il­arly called for the agency to give states flex­ib­il­ity in meet­ing the tar­gets.

Read the full let­ter here. 

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