EPA Sends Final Clean Power Plan Rule to White House for Interagency Review

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By Andrew Childers

June 2 — The Environmental Protection Agency sent a final rule to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants to the White House Office of Management and Budget for interagency review.

The final Clean Power Plan is expected in August. The EPA sent the final rule to the White House June 1. Interagency review is typically the last step before the final rule is signed by the administrator.

The EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan (RIN 2060-AR33) would set a unique carbon dioxide emissions rate for the power sector in each state. State regulators would determine how best to achieve that target through a combination of heat rate improvements at individual power plants, shifting generation from coal to cleaner natural gas, investing in new renewable energy or through energy efficiency programs.

Although the EPA has not yet finalized the proposal, it is already under review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after being challenged by coal companies and states opposed to the proposed carbon dioxide standards (In re: Murray Energy Corp., D.C. Cir., No. 14-1112, oral arguments 4/16/15; West Virginia v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 14-1146, oral arguments 4/16/15).

The Office of Management and Budget also is reviewing the EPA's final carbon dioxide new source performance standards rule (RIN 2060–AQ91) for newly built power plants. That rule as proposed would set an emissions limit of 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour for new natural gas-fired power plants and 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour for new coal-fired units, which would effectively necessitate use of carbon capture systems. That rule is also expected in August.

Together, the rules form the backbone of President Barack Obama's pledge to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by between 26 percent and 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 as nations prepare to gather in Paris this year for international climate negotiations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Childers in Washington at achilders@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com