The EPA may be making some major changes to its carbon dioxide emissions regulatory scheme, the details of which have been leaked to the media just days ahead of its expected release date.
The EPA will be getting rid of its energy efficiency building block of its Clean Power Plan over legal concerns the agency was overstepping its bounds by controlling how efficiently people used their electricity, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Journal also reported the Clean Power Plan will encourage nuclear power production.
An EPA spokeswoman would not confirm the reported changes to the rule as it has not yet been finalized. It’s expected to be unveiled as soon as Monday, and is also expected to be hit with a barrage of lawsuits from states, utilities and coal companies.
The Clean Power Plan was proposed by the EPA last year and has drawn lots of criticism from the energy industry for forcing coal-fired power plants to be retired early and raise electricity prices. The proposal requires existing power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
President Barack Obama is relying on the Clean Power Plan to show other countries the U.S. is serious about cutting emissions and tackling global warming, but potential legal problems with the rule likely have the EPA making some not-so-minor changes.
Before the WSJ’s report about the EPA axing its energy efficiency provision, news reports indicated the agency would also be extending the amount of time states have to submit emissions reductions plans to the federal government. It’s likely an attempt to assuage concerns states had over the rule’s narrow timelines. Environmentalists saw this as a weakening of the rule, but the White House moved quickly to argue the final rule would be stronger than its proposed form.
“There really is no overstating how big this year is for climate change,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said at an event hosted by The New Republic and paid for by liberal The Center For American Progress. “We will finalize a stronger rule.”
McDonough also said the EPA’s final power plant rule, also called the Clean Power Plan, will “have new provisions to boost solar, wind and other renewable energy,” according to Bloomberg BNA.