June 1, 2023
May 2023 at Policy Integrity
- EPA’s New Greenhouse Gas Standards
- FERC Explores Expanded Consideration of Environmental Justice
- Amicus Brief on the Major Questions Doctrine in Student Loan Case
- Webinar: Place-Based Energy Transition Research
- Welcoming Our New Federal Energy Policy Director
- More From This Month
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new regulations this month to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new gas-fired and existing coal-fired power plants. EPA’s proposal also limits GHG emissions from some of the largest existing gas-fired power plants, and the agency is considering extending these limits to the wider fleet. While last summer’s West Virginia v. EPA ruling foreclosed some of EPA’s regulatory design options, Dena Adler explained that the decision “left intact EPA’s obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that endanger public health from the power sector” and clarified the pathways available to EPA. “The agency has carefully walked those lines in this proposal,” Adler told the Christian Science Monitor. In a press statement, Adler also noted that EPA’s approach of setting emission limits based on the reductions possible with the latest technology “is squarely within EPA’s wheelhouse.” As has been the case with previous regulations, these new standards push facilities to adopt new technologies (in this case, carbon capture and hydrogen co-firing) to reduce emissions. Using this long-standing regulatory approach should help the rule withstand potential legal scrutiny.
Over the past few months, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has explored new options for considering environmental justice concerns in key decisions. At FERC’s recent Environmental Justice & Equity in Infrastructure Permitting roundtable, our Al Huang provided testimony about how FERC could improve its environmental justice analyses. In subsequent comments, Policy Integrity supported the Commission’s legal authority to consider environmental justice impacts in its permitting decisions and explained how FERC could use federal screening tools to better identify environmental justice communities. We also submitted comments related to FERC’s backstop siting authority, which empowers the commission to site transmission projects that have been rejected or not acted upon by states. Our comments addressed the environmental justice and emissions analyses that FERC should require transmission developers to submit to the Commission.
We filed an amicus brief in a Ninth Circuit student loan case to address the proper application of the major questions doctrine. Our brief in support of neither party takes no position on how the Ninth Circuit should ultimately decide the case. Instead, it provides the framework the court should apply when addressing the major questions doctrine. It explains that, although the Supreme Court’s major questions precedents often reference the economic significance of an agency’s action, none of the Supreme Court’s precedents, including West Virginia v. EPA, turns on this factor. Rather, West Virginia explains that, to be extraordinary enough to trigger the doctrine, the agency’s action must, at a minimum, also be “unheralded” and represent a “transformative” change in its authority.
Join us for a discussion of place-based energy transitions on June 21st at 11am Eastern Time. Panelists will share takeaways from their place-based research on energy justice and clean energy development, including how such research can inform state and national policy-making. They will then reflect on the theoretical frameworks and methodological tools used in their research, as well as the unique and important role of Minority Serving-Institutions in advancing such research. You can click here to register. This webinar is the last in a series highlighting energy equity research funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. You can also watch recordings of our previous webinars on tribal energy transitions and energy insecurity and energy transitions.
This month, we welcomed Jennifer Danis as our new Federal Energy Policy Director. Most recently, Ms. Danis litigated energy infrastructure issues, with a focus on conflicts between state PUCs and FERC, as part of the Niskanen Center’s litigation team. She also has significant experience working with a broad range of national energy advocates and experts to help document skewed natural gas market economics, the economics of deep decarbonization, barriers to expediting electric transmission, and ecological, health and safety impacts from fossil fuel infrastructure.
- Our staff contributed to a new piece in SCIENCE that discusses the importance of OMB’s Circular A-4 update.
- We submitted comments to EPA on its proposed rule to strengthen power plant effluent guidelines.
- We submitted comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in response to its Request for Information on Chronic Hazards Associated with Gas Ranges and Proposed Solutions.