APPA says proposed EPA rules would do too much too fast

The American Public Power Association (APPA) submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its proposed rule to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. APPA agrees that the electricity sector needs to reduce CO2 emissions, but cautions against the dangers of the proposed rule trying to do too much too quickly.

If implemented in its current form, EPA’s proposed rule will create economic inefficiency, impose additional costs on electricity customers, threaten the reliability of the electricity system, and force risky over-reliance on a single fuel — natural gas — to generate electricity.

“This rule, as proposed, aims to make unprecedented changes to the way energy will be generated and used in this country,” said APPA President and CEO Sue Kelly. “These changes will ripple over the next several decades, so they must be made carefully and collaboratively. In our comments, we’ve laid out constructive changes to make the proposed rule more likely to work in the real world and fulfill its intended purpose.”

APPA points out in its comments that the proposed rule’s requirements go beyond what is legally permissible under section 111(d) and conflict with the authority of other federal, state and local government entities.

APPA prefers congressional action to address the issue. However, given that congressional action is unlikely in the foreseeable future and that the president has directed EPA to issue a final rule in June 2015 under its existing authority, APPA offers suggestions to improve the proposed rule.

APPA’s comments urge EPA to modify the proposed rule to:

·      Allow states to choose a baseline time period that more accurately reflects their circumstances.

·      Provide full credit for investments already made — in renewables, energy efficiency, etc. — that reduce or offset CO2 emissions.

·      Fix the errors and revise the assumptions in the computations of the four building blocks to reflect what the states can realistically accomplish and to ensure more equity among states.

·      Remove nuclear units under construction from the relevant state goal computations.

·      Allow all generating resources that emit no CO2 to be used for compliance.

·      Provide states with more time to develop state compliance plans.

·      Provide more guidance on the development of multi-state plans and interstate agreements.

·      Eliminate the interim reduction goal and allow states to determine their own emission reduction trajectory (glide path) to reach their final reduction goal.

·      Allow a state’s final reduction goal, the year to achieve that goal, and/or the glide path to be adjusted if the state can demonstrate that circumstances have materially changed.

·      Include mechanisms to ensure that potentially regulated entities have maximum flexibility to comply with state plans at reasonable cost.

·      Establish a reliability “safety valve” to ensure that compliance does not impair system reliability or conflict with North American Electric Reliability Corporation standards.

APPA looks forward to continued collaboration with EPA to develop a workable final rule to contain CO2 emissions from power plants.

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