“Surface coal mine detail, Gillette, Wyoming” by Greg Goebel from Loveland CO, USA – Yiscm_3bUploaded by PDTillman. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –
In our Western states and around the country, we are seeing legislation introduced that would derail the Clean Power Plan before it even begins. Western Resource Advocates is opposing these bills in our states and working to help legislators get the facts on how well positioned Western states are to achieve these new standards, which will result in cleaner air and reduced carbon pollution.
Last June, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) made history by proposing the nation’s first rules limiting greenhouse gas emiss Western Resource Advocates is opposing these bills in our states and working to help legislators get the facts on how well positioned Western states are to achieve these new standards, which will result in cleaner air and reduced carbon pollution.ions from existing power plants. These rules, known as the “Clean Power Plan” use EPA’s existing Clean Air Act authority to curb emissions from the power sector. WRA has been analyzing the impact of the Clean Power Plan on Western states, and has found many states in the Interior West are very well positioned to reach compliance with the new standards within a few years.
In state legislatures around the country, we have seen bills that would prohibit states from complying with the Clean Power Plan or create unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles intended to prevent compliance. Many of these attacks are the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”), a conservative policy organization that denies the existence of climate change, and is funded by fossil fuel industry interests, such as Peabody Energy.
Under the Clean Power Plan, like most air quality regulations, states will be required to prepare and submit implementation plans detailing how they will comply with the new emission limits. These plans are then evaluated and eventually approved by EPA. If a state fails to submit a plan, or submits a plan EPA deems inadequate, EPA has authority to impose a plan on the state.
Many of these derailment bills include language touting the primacy of state authority over the federal government. Yet, in reality, these bills place states at risk of losing control over their energy policy. Rather than allowing expert state agencies with significant technical air quality expertise to submit implementation plans – as is the typical approach – these bills erect barriers to the submission of a state plan to EPA. Many require both houses of a state legislature to approve any plan before it is submitted to EPA, injecting politics into the compliance process, creating unnecessary delay, and placing states at risk of missing the deadline to submit plans to EPA. Failing to timely submit a plan to EPA, or submitting a plan that is watered down by the political process and therefore fails to meet the new greenhouse gas pollution standards, would place a state at risk of having a federal plan created by EPA and imposed upon it.
The good news is that, so far, most these derailment bills have been unsuccessful. WRA and other conservation groups have been active in opposing this legislation. In Colorado, a bill establishing roadblocks that would stymie a state plan – based on ALEC model legislation – was indefinitely postponed in committee. In Montana, a legislator withdrew his own ALEC-influenced legislation on the Clean Power Plan. In Nevada, a new ALEC-style bill was recently introduced, which we are working with partners to oppose.
WRA supports the Clean Power Plan as a necessary and reasonable step in reducing greenhouse gas pollution from the power sector. We believe expert state agencies are in the best position to craft implementation plans that achieve the necessary pollution reductions, while still reflecting local concerns and priorities. We look forward to working with Western states to craft implementation plans that are meaningful and approvable, without the needless bureaucratic roadblocks ALEC and its fossil fuel industry funders are attempting to impose.