Senate Hearing Highlights State Clean Power Plant Objections

Published May 21, 2015

A Senate hearing concerning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) sweeping clean power plant rule featured testimony from state officials opposing new carbon-dioxide regulations EPA is expected to finalize in the summer of 2015.

John Eick, director of the Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, says it is difficult to respond to the rule without knowing what it will be.

“One of the main challenges in addressing the Clean Power Plan now is that no one knows precisely what the final rule is going to look like or if the regulation will be able to survive numerous legal challenges,” Eick said.

States Prepare

Testimony from state officials from Indiana, Wisconsin, and Wyoming at the March Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing questioned whether CPP would be legal and highlighted hardships states would face if it is implemented.

“Wisconsin officials at the state Department of Natural Resources and the Public Service Commission feel strongly the Clean Power Plan, as presented in its current form, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a far overreach of the Clean Air Act that does not take into account the efforts and billions of dollars states like Wisconsin have already undertaken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said Wisconsin Public Service Commission Chairman Ellen Nowak.

Eick says EPA will release a model federal implementation plan (FIP) for states to consider, along with the final rule. If states opt against filing a state implementation plan (SIP) or file a SIP EPA deems unacceptable, EPA would likely attempt to impose the model FIP on states. Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have already passed laws requiring legislative approval for any SIP developed by their respective state environmental agencies to comply with CPP.

“Once the rule and model FIP are finalized and states know exactly what they will be dealing with, I think you will see more legislative activity in the states through the 2016 sessions,” Eick said. “Other states may eventually opt against developing a SIP until all legal challenges are settled.”

 “Through our state’s Department of Justice and Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office, Wisconsin has joined a number of other states that are questioning the legality of the proposed rule and how to best combat its detrimental effects on the affordability of electricity on behalf of the ratepayers of the state of Wisconsin,” Nowak said.

 Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.