States Not Obligated to Spend Resources on Clean Power Plan Compliance, Pruitt Says

State governors are not obligated to spend resources to comply with the Clean Power Plan, which has been stayed by the Supreme Court, a “guidance” letter from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt says.

The three-paragraph letter, dated March 30, notes that the Supreme Court set a “precedent” when it stayed the rule governing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants on February 9, 2016. “To the extent any deadlines become relevant in the future, case law and past practice of the EPA supports the application of day-to-day tolling.”

President Donald Trump on March 28 signed the “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” executive order, rescinding a substantial number of key provisions outlined by the previous administration’s climate agenda and directing a review of some rules that may place costly burdens on coal generators, coal miners, and oil and gas producers. A key measure calls on the EPA to begin a reevaluation of the Clean Power Plan and the New Source Performance Standards.

Pruitt remarked at the executive order’s signing that the EPA is “going to provide regulatory certainty.”

In the March 30 letter, Pruitt also declared: “The days of coercive federalism are over.”

The letter serves to bolster Pruitt’s agenda for the agency that he laid out in a speech at CERAweek by IHS Markit earlier this month in Houston. The EPA’s administrative policies will be reined in to focus on process, rule of law, and cooperation with states, said the administrator, who formerly served as Oklahoma’s attorney general. In that position, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times, challenging its authority to promulgate rules regulating power plant emissions of mercury, ozone, and carbon, as well as contesting a number of rules concerning the quality of wetlands and other waters.

Pruitt has claimed that under the Obama administration the EPA abused its authority, issuing 56 federal implementation plans. That compares to five issued by the three previous administrations combined, he noted.

“That represents an attitude. It represents an attitude of displacement. It represents an attitude of true disregard for the very statutory framework of a partnership with the states. That’s going to change under our administration,” he said.

 

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