EPA Power Plant Rule Balances Environmental Protections with State Authority
The National Mining Association (NMA) today applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which offers a legal framework to advance the nation’s environmental protections while preserving the rightful authority of the states to manage their own unique energy infrastructure and electric grids.
“In this rule, the EPA has accomplished what eluded the prior administration: providing a clear, legal pathway to reduce emissions while preserving states’ authority over their own grids,” said Hal Quinn, NMA President and CEO. “ACE replaces a proposal that was so extreme that the Supreme Court issued an unprecedented stay of the proposal, having recognized the economic havoc the mere suggestion of such overreach was causing in the nation’s power grid.”
The ACE rule is a welcome replacement to its costly predecessor, the so-called “Clean Power Plan” (CPP). If allowed to go into effect, the CPP would have had a negligible impact on the environment but at a great cost to average Americans who need affordable and reliable energy. The CPP was projected to cause double-digit wholesale electricity price increases in 46 states.
Strengths of the ACE proposal over its predecessor include:
- Regulating Individual Sources vs. Remaking the Entire Grid. Section 111 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) limits systems of emission reduction to those that can be implemented at the source. Such an approach is consistent with more than 40 years of pre-CPP precedent, which allows EPA to regulate individual sources, not the entire electric grid. The ACE proposal identifies heat rate improvements (HRI) as the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for coal-fired power plants because HRI technologies are the only demonstrated means of reducing emissions that can be applied in a cost-effective manner at individual plants.
- Balancing State and Federal Authority vs. A One-Size-Fits-All Mandate. The CAA created a system of shared authority by EPA and the states, with states playing a vital role under CAA 111(d). The ACE rule clarifies that EPA’s role is to determine a nationally applicable BSER while the states determine standards and how to implement them. At its core, the ACE rule respects that each state is different and will require a unique approach to emissions reduction.
- Reducing Emissions without Unnecessary Costs vs. Regulating to Target an Entire Industry. The ACE rule is expected to cut emissions by more than a third below 2005 levels by 2030 – nearly as much as CPP – while also reducing the compliance burden by up to $400 million annually when compared to CPP.
See the release here.
- On June 19, 2019