Monday, May 18, 2015

Despite Political Rhetoric, 41 States Exploring Clean Power Plan Options

Power plants account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. That's more than every car, truck, and plane in the U.S. combined. (Photo Credit: alohaspirit/iStock) Click to Enlarge.
At least 41 states are in talks with neighbors about how they might cut power-sector carbon emissions under U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, despite appeals from Republicans in Congress for state officials to refuse to comply, according to regional coordinators.

Fifteen states are bringing court challenges to the rule, and based on comments from GOP governors and attorneys general, it appears that number could grow closer to two dozen once EPA finalizes the regulation this summer.

But while those high-level politicians threaten to fight the standards or follow advice from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and "just say no," air and electric regulators are still considering their options and discussing how they can coordinate with other states.

"Our experience from states that are going to make a legal challenge, they have said nothing publicly, but still behind the scenes they're saying, 'OK, what are our options?'" said Doug Scott, former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission and vice president of the Great Plains Institute.  GPI is organizing Clean Power Plan talks in the Midwest and tallied up the 41 states involved in discussions around the country.

Seven states involved with GPI's Midwestern Power Sector Collaborative have asked EPA to set up a voluntary carbon credit trading system so states or generators that fall short of their goals can purchase allowances from states that exceed them.

Regulators from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Michigan signed on to that letter to EPA last month, with high-ranking officials in Missouri, Kentucky and Wisconsin participating as observers.  That group also involves electric utilities and environmental advocates. Also in the Midwest, the Midcontinent States Environmental and Energy Regulators has held talks.

In Denver last week, representatives from 13 Western states met in private sessions convened by former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter's Center for the New Energy Economy.  CNEE has held about half a dozen such meetings since June, involving North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and states to the West, said Jeff Lyng, a senior policy adviser for the group.  EPA officials from headquarters and three regional offices have been involved.

Read more at Despite Political Rhetoric, 41 States Exploring Clean Power Plan Options

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