Thursday, June 22, 2017

Energy CEOs Tell Pruitt They Want Carbon Regulation

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt asked utility CEOs about replacing the Clean Power Plan. (Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Dozens of power industry executives who flew to Washington for a Monday meeting with U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had three minutes apiece to tell him whether they want to replace the Clean Power Plan.

Many said that if EPA follows through with rescinding the rule, the agency should write a less stringent carbon regulation that sets efficiency standards for coal plants.  That would give the industry certainty to make planning decisions, they said.

But Pruitt didn't seem convinced, according to one source with knowledge of the discussion. The EPA chief could instead forgo replacing the carbon rule and decide to challenge the agency's underlying endangerment finding, which requires it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA has already drafted a rulemaking to revoke the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which requires power plants to cut emissions 32 percent by 2030.  Pruitt at some point must decide whether to write a new regulation to potentially satisfy the endangerment finding.

EPA officials under Obama argued that the rule would speed an industry shift away from coal and toward cheaper natural gas and renewables, while letting states chart their own paths. Legal challengers, including Pruitt, said EPA shouldn't have looked for carbon reductions "outside the fence line" of coal-fired power plants.

Any replacement that focused just on coal plants probably wouldn't cut carbon emissions much.

But companies told Pruitt on Monday that having a regulation on the books would help them plan for the future and send a signal to state regulators and policymakers that utilities are not going to build new coal plants.  Replacing the Clean Power Plan with a weaker rule could also hinder a future administration from writing stricter rules for electricity generators.

Read more at Energy CEOs Tell Pruitt They Want Carbon Regulation

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