Legal & Regulatory

EPA Delays Final Carbon Rules for New Power Plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said today that a delay in issuing final rules affecting carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, which were due this week, will help the agency release a set of more coordinated rules covering new, existing, and modified plants.

The carbon dioxide rule for new plants—issued under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act—was due Thursday, Jan. 8, while the final rule for existing and modified units—issued under Section 111(d)—is due June 2.

During a call for reporters, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe said the agency has realized that there are “cross-cutting” issues affecting all three classes of plants and that the EPA is now considering the “overlapping issues in a coordinated fashion.”

In September, the EPA extended the comment period for its proposed Clean Power Plan to Dec. 1 and received a total of more than 2 million comments. Many of them, as noted in McCabe’s Jan. 6 blog post, concerned issues of system reliability. Today’s announcement appears to be a move in the direction of ensuring better consideration of the consequences of the suite of rules. It also delays any potential pushback from the Republican-controlled Congress.

Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was in Phoenix today, addressing members of the American Meteorological Society, where she said that the challenge of climate change is an economic opportunity. As reported by “ ‘What you see happening in China and in recent conversations in India are going to make people comfortable that if the largest greenhouse polluters say this is where they’re going to be in 2030, you are then going to trigger a range of investments—not costs, but investments,’ McCarthy said. ‘I think that will get us more in 2030 than we ever required and put us on a better trajectory moving forward.’ ”

Gail Reitenbach, PhD (@GailReit, @POWERmagazine)

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