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June 10 — The Environmental Protection Agency continues to not properly follow statutory requirements for gathering the input of small entities as it prepares to finalize its Clean Power Plan to address carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s fleet of power plants, seven Republican senators said June 10.
The senators asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a letter to directly respond to conclusions from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy in May that the agency failed to follow Regulatory Flexibility Act requirements by showing up unprepared for Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) meetings and failing to provide adequate information to small business attendees.
“It is absolutely essential for a federal agency to appropriately comply with all relevant laws during the rulemaking process,” the senators wrote. “Roughly one month has passed since EPA received advocacy’s letter, and we have been told that the agency has not yet responded to or otherwise modified its approach to the panel to address advocacy’s concerns.”
The senators, all of whom oppose the underlying regulation, further said the EPA was “entirely unprepared” for the small business entity meetings, “thereby undermining productivity and making it appear as though EPA does not prioritize its obligations to small entities as it must do” under the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
In response to earlier concerns, the EPA convened its Small Business Advocacy Review panel on April 30 to specifically examine the impacts of a federal implementation plan on small businesses. That plan would be used in states that elect not to develop their own plans for implementing the Clean Power Plan, once finalized.
Republican Sens. David Vitter (La.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Tim Scott (S.C.), and Mike Enzi (Wyo.), all members of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, signed the letter.
A broad group of senior Republicans raised similar concerns about how the agency could collect and incorporate meaningful small business input into the final plan, which the EPA intends to finalize sometime this summer.
The rule (RIN 2060-AR33) would set a unique carbon dioxide emissions rate for the power sector in each state. With that rule, the EPA plans to propose a model federal implementation plan to guide state regulators in developing their own compliance measures for the Clean Power Plan.
Publicly owned utilities and rural power cooperatives have also recently criticized the EPA’s solicitation of small business input as it prepares its federal implementation plan for any states that elect not to comply with the Clean Power Plan.
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