Legal & Regulatory

EPA Drops Proposed Model Carbon Trading Rules Ahead of Trump Takeover

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has abandoned an interagency review of draft model carbon trading rules that were issued alongside the final Clean Power Plan to make associated documents public before the Trump administration takes the reins at the agency.

The agency proposed the model trading rules as components of state implementation plans that it would presumptively approve under the Clean Power Plan. The rules had been under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) since November 3. The public comment period for the rules—proposed in August 2015—closed on January 21, 2016.

In a December 19 blog post, however, Janet McCabe, who is the acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, announced that the EPA had withdrawn the rules from interagency review and was making the draft rules, along with accompanying draft documents, available to the public.

“While these drafts are not final and we are not required to release them at this time, making them available now allows us to share our work to date and to respond to the states that have requested information prior to the end of the Administration,” her post said.

She noted that 14 states had urged the EPA to provide more information and assistance related to the Clean Power Plan, saying it would be helpful in the near-term. The states were: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

“We believe that the work we have done so far may be useful at this time to the states, stakeholders and members of the public who are considering or are already implementing policies and programs that would cut carbon pollution from the power sector,” McCabe wrote. The drafts could be especially helpful to states that are considering carbon trading programs or expanding existing programs. “Similarly, states interested in using or expanding energy efficiency programs might find the material presented in the Evaluation, Measurement & Verification document useful as well,” she noted.

One document released today notes that the model trading rules and associated documents remain under development and “are subject to further change, resubmittal to the OMB, and potentially, finalization under a subsequent administration.”

President-elect Donald Trump in early December picked Oklahoma’s Republican attorney general, Scott Pruitt, to head the EPA. Pruitt has led a 28-state-strong legal contest of the agency’s Clean Power Plan. On behalf of the state of Oklahoma, Pruitt also joined in the appeal that prompted the Supreme Court to stay the rule pending a decision on its legality in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this February.

“The choice to withdraw the Model Rules is specific to the informational purpose they were designed to serve,” EPA Deputy Associate Administrator Melissa Harrison told POWER on December 19. “The Clean Power Plan continues to work its way through the judicial process and we are fully confident that it will ultimately be upheld.”

The documents released today by the EPA include:


Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)


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