Oklahoma AG’s proposal allows states to set emissions standards

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On Tuesday, at an event hosted by the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C., Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt revealed his proposal that gives states the flexibility to address carbon dioxide emissions standards from existing power plants.

The plan titled, “The Oklahoma Attorney General's Plan: The Clean Air Act Section 111(d) Framework that Preserves States' Rights,” challenges President Obama’s Climate Action Plan which directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing fossil-fuel fired power plants. However, under the Clean Air Act, states have the authority to design and implement regulations, addressing emissions standards.

Pruitt argues that by directing the EPA to set emissions standards, the Obama administration is using a federal agency to undermine state authority.

“The Environmental Protection Agency has played an important role historically in protecting the environment. But the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws envision a cooperative federalism where the states and federal government work together to protect our air and water,” Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt said. “Unfortunately, the EPA has grown increasingly unwilling to properly defer to state authority and instead is attempting to usurp the role of the states through initiatives like proposing new regulations on emissions from existing power plants.”

The proposal includes a unit-by-unit, “inside the fence” approach, allowing states to evaluate each unit’s ability to improve efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“States have a vested interest in protecting the air and water, and they have the experience, expertise, and ability to regulate these issues,” Pruitt added. “Cooperative federalism empowers states by letting them lead the way in addressing these issues. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Plan provides the states the ability to make necessary policy judgments in order to address carbon dioxide emissions standards. This approach preserves state primacy and does not turn over management of local power generation fleets to the EPA. The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Plan keeps resource planning in the hands of state regulators with specialized expertise and a focus on ratepayer impacts and protection of the public interest.”

Pruitt adds that the EPA’s mandate that new coal-fired power plants install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, violates federal law and the technology has not been proven commercially viable. He also mentions the Environmental Policy Act of 2005 which states that the EPA may not use federally-funded projects to prove a technology is commercially proven. The EPA included federally-funded projects in its regulatory analysis.

The EPA is expected to release plans for carbon dioxide emission limits at existing power plants next month.

To read The Oklahoma Attorney General's Plan: The Clean Air Act Section 111(d) Framework that Preserves States' Rights, click here.

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