UPDATE - US EPA officially proposes Clean Power Plan repeal

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

October 11 (Renewables Now) - The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Tuesday that Administrator Scott Pruitt has formally issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the planned repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

The EPA said in a statement that the Obama administration, which introduced the CPP in 2015, relied on cost and benefit estimates that were, in multiple areas, “highly uncertain and/or controversial”. According to the agency, repealing the plan could provide up to USD 33 billion (EUR 27.9bn) in avoided compliance costs in 2030.

Through the CPP, former President Barack Obama sought to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. The plan never came into effect as in February 2016 the US Supreme Court issued an unprecedented stay of the rule.

In late March, President Donald Trump signed an executive order (EO) aimed at lifting bans and limitations for the fossil fuel and nuclear industry while voiding a number of Obama-era climate policies. That EO called for a review of the CPP and its GHG emissions guidelines, and also canceled a number of energy and climate-related presidential and regulatory actions, such as the Climate Action Plan.

The EPA now says that the Obama-era regulation exceeds the agency’s statutory authority.

“EPA will respect the limits of statutory authority. The CPP ignored states’ concerns and eroded longstanding and important partnerships that are a necessary part of achieving positive environmental outcomes. We can now assess whether further regulatory action is warranted; and, if so, what is the most appropriate path forward, consistent with the Clean Air Act and principles of cooperative federalism,” Pruitt stated.

The NPRM has been sent to the Federal Register for publication. Upon publication, there will be a 60-day period for the public to submit comments.

The agency did not say when a new plan will be made. “Any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule,” Pruitt mentioned.

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