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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 20
  • December
  • 2013

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15 States Submit Latest Recommendations to EPA for Greenhouse Gas Guidelines for Existing Power Plants

On Monday, 15 states submitted a proposal to EPA outlining their argument for how the Agency should craft its pending Clean Air Act (“CAA”) greenhouse gas (“GHG”) standards for existing power plants. As explained in an earlier post, under section 111(d) of the CAA, EPA will establish a general emission reduction guideline that the states will implement by establishing a standard of performance. The plan discussed below was developed by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Similar to the proposals presented in our post on November 26, this plan encourages EPA to give states flexibility in meeting any standards it develops under section 111(d). In their plan, the States encourage EPA to develop a stringent but flexible approach that takes into account state programs in place, which “are already achieving significant carbon pollution reductions from the power sector, and are demonstrating a variety of ways in which such reductions can be achieved.” These States have reduced electricity sector carbon emissions by 20 percent from 2005 to 2011 “[t]hrough market-based programs, renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency resource standards and funding commitments, utility planning, and other efforts.” The overarching principles outlined in the States’ proposal include allowing states that have these current carbon reduction and clean energy programs to use these programs as compliance mechanisms to meet EPA emission guidelines.

The States ask that EPA establish an emission guideline that “equitably recognizes the different starting points and circumstances of different states” and allow a variety of compliance options, including regional emission trading programs and state portfolio programs, such as California’s AB 32 and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”) carbon pollution trading program (which, according to their report submitted to EPA, the RGGI states have reduced their carbon pollution by over 40 percent from 2005 to 2012). According to the plan, these market-based approaches “have demonstrated that these programs are an efficient, cost-effective way to achieve emission reductions and efficiently move the electric grid toward a cleaner system.” The plan also suggests that these approaches can be combined with other complementary programs, such as “renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency programs, and emission reduction programs directed at other pollutants, as well as fuel switching and energy efficiency at power plants.”

The plan outlines an approach that urges EPA to establish a standard of performance based on a best system of emission reduction (“BSER”) that “reflects the full range of approaches that states have successfully demonstrated can cost-effectively reduce carbon pollution from the electricity system as a whole.” The plan argues that an approach promoting flexible compliance options recognizes that different approaches are appropriate for different states and will give them the ability to implement innovative programs to reach the federal targets, according to the plan. The states suggest that EPA should draw on state experiences in identifying BSER and in setting the performance level through a “system-wide approach,” taking into account all of the strategies and demonstrated programs and the carbon pollution reductions achievable by them. 

EPA will soon enter the drafting phase of the 111(d) guideline ahead of the June 2014 deadline set by President Obama in his June 25, 2013 Memorandum to EPA for issuing a proposed rule. The final rule is to be issued no later than June 2015 and states will have until June 2016 to submit their implementation plans to EPA.

Posted byMargaret E. Peloso at 12/20/2013 11:05 AM 

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Margaret E. Peloso

Margaret E. Peloso Partner