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EPA’s Clean Power Plan - Public Comments

In Policy Integrity’s recently submitted public comments on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, we make the case that the EPA’s flexible, cost-minimizing approach to setting performance standards for existing power plants is consistent with over 30 years of EPA Clean Air Act practice, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. While opponents of the Clean Power Plan have argued that the EPA is taking unprecedented and unwarranted steps to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act, we show that the plan is deeply rooted in precedent.

Our comments discuss the many historical antecedents to the elements of the plan that opponents have criticized: the EPA’s use of statewide limits on emissions rates when the statute refers to limits on sources; the fact that this rule could shift the balance of fuels used to produce electricity; the use of demand-side energy efficiency measures in analysis of how states can meet the requirements of the Act; the use of performance standards to existing sources that are regulated under hazardous air standards; and the accounting for co-benefits, such as the reductions in harmful particulate matter that will occur in tandem with greenhouse gas reductions, in the rule’s cost-benefit analysis.

We also address why the EPA’s approach is preferable to a strict, technology-based standard, and suggest some ways in which the EPA could make the program even more efficient.