EPA Publishes Final Amendments to Subpart W for 2015, Proposes Expansion to Include Natural Gas Gathering and Boosting and Oil Well Completions and Workovers

(Federal GHG regulations) Permanent link
 
This morning, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA” or “the Agency”) published a Final Rule revising Subpart W of the Mandatory Report of Greenhouse Gases Rule (“Mandatory Reporting Rule or MRR”) which covers oil and natural gas production, natural gas transmission and storage, and distribution. Although not yet in the Federal Register, EPA also announced a Proposed Rule that will lead to additional revisions of Subpart W, including its expansion to cover the natural gas gathering and boosting segment and completions and workovers from hydraulically fractured oil wells. Collectively, the Final Rule and Proposed Rule serve as an important signal of EPA’s potential future plans to regulate methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector.

In October 2009, EPA issued the MRR, requiring large emissions sources and suppliers across a broad range of industry sectors to report GHG data to EPA annually. Initially-covered sources began reporting their annual emissions with the 2010 reporting year, but the final MRR actually did not include Subpart W until EPA issued a supplemental rulemaking on the subject in November 2010. EPA currently collects GHG data from 41 source categories. Subpart W relates to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems source category. This source category is broad and includes a number of industry segments, covering facilities engaged in production, processing, transmission, and distribution.

EPA finalized a number of revisions to the petroleum and natural gas systems source category in the Final Rule. Of particular note, the Final Rule adds requirements to separately report emissions of methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide as well as continuing to require that the facility’s total emissions be reported in tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This change is potentially significant in light of the Obama Administration’s Methane Strategy, which calls upon EPA to determine how to pursue additional methane reductions from a variety of sources including the oil and natural gas sector.

Other revisions to Subpart W finalized today include:
  • Revising certain definitions, such as the definition of “onshore petroleum and natural gas production” to clarify what emissions sources are covered;
  • Clarifying procedures for estimating missing data;
  • Removing provisions related to Best Available Monitoring Methods (“BAMM”), alternative calculation methods EPA allowed facilities to employ until they could adopt the necessary methods.
Although the Agency is eliminating provisions relating to BAMM, the final rule provides short-term transitional BAMM for reporters subject to new monitoring or measuring requirements.

According to the Agency, many of the technical revisions to calculation methods were designed to provide greater flexibility and potentially reduce the burden on facilities. For example, the rule allows for the use of either site-specific composition data or a default gas composition for natural gas transmission compression, underground natural gas storage, liquefied natural gas storage, LNG import and export, and natural gas distribution facilities.

EPA’s Proposed Rule will expand the coverage of Subpart W to include natural gas gathering and boosting, completions and workovers of hydraulically fractured oil wells (the rule already requires reporting of completions and workovers from hydraulically fractured gas wells), and blowdowns of natural gas transmission pipelines. While Subpart W is only a data gathering tool, the addition of these segments further suggests that in its consideration of potential methane regulations for the oil and natural gas sector, EPA is looking at all aspects of oil and natural gas production, transmission, and distribution.

Today’s Final Rule will take effect on January 1, 2015, meaning that the first data reports made under its provisions will be those submitted in March of 2016 for the 2015 reporting year. According to the pre-publication proposal, comments on EPA’s Proposed Rule will be due 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

Posted by Margaret Peloso and Lauren Sidner at 11/25/2014 4:45 PM

GAO Reports the Climate Change Is Increasing Insurance Risk Exposure

(Climate Change Science) Permanent link
 
This past October, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issued a report on flood and crop insurance, indicating that climate change and related rises in extreme weather events may increase losses in the future. According to the report, property values have generally increased in “hazard-prone” areas, which has in turn increased the potential losses for insured properties. The increase in potential losses has had an especially great impact on federal insurance policies: While private sector exposure increased around 10% over the past 7 years, federal exposure increased by 46% during the same period. According to the GAO, climate change may increase losses from about 50 to 100% by 2100.

The report notes that the private insurance sector has taken a number of steps in the past few years to better manage its risk exposure to climate change, but primarily focuses on public insurance offered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) and the Risk Management Agency (“RMA”). 

The report describes some of the challenges that climate-related disasters pose for these agencies. One such challenge faced by the agencies is finding ways to encourage policyholders to reduce long-term exposure to climate risks. Many of the current insurance incentive structures are designed to prevent short-term risks to these policyholders but may actually increase their long-term climate-related risks. For example, certain “good farming practices,” such as crop irrigation, “maintain short-term production but may inadvertently increase the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change through increased erosion and inefficient water use.” Although these practices could have long-term negative impacts, federal law currently prohibits crop insurance from covering “losses due to a farmers’ failure to follow good farming practices,” thus hamstringing the agencies’ ability to encourage different practices. The GAO recommends that the RMA work with agricultural experts to incorporate salient agriculture practices into their guidance, so that “good farming practices” can better align with good climate change preparation.

The report also recommends that these agencies reduce subsidies and charge full-risk premiums to individual policyholders in order to decrease the federal government’s fiscal exposure under the flood and crop insurance programs. In addition, it recommends that the agencies revise the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) standards to reflect our evolving understanding of the impacts that climate change will have on certain vulnerable areas in the future. The GAO suggests including forward-looking standards, like those adopted by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. Although FEMA has taken some steps to incorporate climate-related concerns into the NFIP, the GAO noted that FEMA is relying on outdated data regarding likely impacts.

Posted by Corinne Snow at 11/25/2014 4:40 PM

EPA Delays 2014 RFS: Practical Implications and Legal Considerations

(Renewable Fuel Standards and Biofuels) Permanent link
 
On Friday, the EPA announced that it will further delay the long-awaited final rule establishing the required volumes for 2014 under the renewable fuel standards (‘RFS”) program. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA was supposed to have acted by November of the preceding year—meaning November 2013 to set the 2014 standards—to establish by rule the volumes of renewable fuel that must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply to meet the legal obligations of the RFS. In the past few years, EPA’s announcement of the required volumes has been slipping ever further behind this statutory deadline: EPA did not propose the renewable volumes for 2013 until February 7, 2013, and they were not finalized until August 15, 2013.

For 2014, EPA issued a proposed rule establishing the RFS volumes in November 2013. The proposed rule was quite controversial because for the first time EPA proposed to exercise its authority to grant significant waivers of the statutorily required volumes of renewable fuel to address projected lack of supply of certain advanced biofuels and avoid the ethanol blendwall. Given that EPA did not propose 2014 volumes until November 2013, many observers expected that EPA would follow a pattern similar to that for setting the 2013 volumes and make an announcement in late summer. However, no final rule came. Instead, EPA acted on June 16 and again on August 8, 2014, to extend the deadline for 2013’s compliance demonstration, recognizing the 2013 compliance demonstration cannot be completed until the 2014 required renewable fuel volumes are set. The August 2014 announcement stated that the 2013 compliance deadline will now be extended until after the 2014 volumes are finalized.

On Friday, EPA announced that it will not be finalizing required volumes of renewable fuels under the RFS in 2014. Instead, EPA stated that it plans to take action to promulgate 2014 standards in 2015 “prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule.” 

EPA also announced that it intends to modify the permit trading and retiring of renewable identification numbers (“RINs”) that can be used to meet the 2013 compliance obligation. Under the RFS program, entities with compliance obligations each have an individual renewable volume obligation (“RVO”). Entities typically meet their RVO by blending renewable fuels into fuels covered by the RFS program and generating their own credits. If an entity generates more RINs than it requires to meet its own compliance obligations, it may sell those excess RINs on the open market as tradable credits.  Conversely entities that have RVOs but do not generate their own RINs—such as merchant refiners who do not generate finished products—must purchase the RINs they need to meet their compliance obligations on the RIN market. RINs can also be carried over, meaning that excess RINs from a prior year could be held and used to generate compliance with the next year’s obligations under the RFS (e.g. 2012 RINs can be used for demonstration of compliance with the 2013 volume obligations). Because of the delays in the 2014 volume rule and 2013 compliance deadline, EPA announced that it would extend the validity of 2012 vintage RINs (which could be used as carryover RINs for the 2013 compliance demonstration) beyond December 31, 2014. However, EPA noted that the necessary changes to its electronic emissions trading platform are not scheduled to be completed until April 1, 2015, meaning that 2012 RINs will not be able to be traded through EPA’s electronic system between January and April of 2015.

EPA’s announcement that it will not finalize 2014 RFS volumes this year raises a number of important practical and legal considerations. The first has to do with demonstrating compliance with the RFS for 2013. At the time of the compliance demonstration, each party with an RVO must surrender a number of RINs that is equal to their obligation under the RFS, and in doing so will take account of how many RINs it may wish to carry over for the next year and buy or sell RINs accordingly. Because EPA has not finalized the 2014 RFS volumes, entities regulated under the RFS cannot make informed decisions about how they will demonstrate final compliance with their 2013 RVOs. Without information on 2014 volumes, it is not possible to know with certainty how many 2013 RINs an entity may want for compliance in 2014, which will impact the availability of RINs for purchase on the market and their prices.

Second, it is far from clear that EPA has the legal authority to proceed in the manner it has proposed. While the D.C. Circuit has not been receptive to lawsuits challenging EPA’s failure to meet the RFS’s statutory deadlines, new legal issues arise from EPA’s most recent proposal. First, under the Clean Air Act, RINs are only valid for two years: the year in which they are generated and one year later. Therefore, if EPA were to seek to generate the kind of multi-year RFS suggested in its recent announcement, the Agency may face significant legal hurdles. This challenge is also likely to be encountered with EPA’s current plans to extend the lifetime of 2012 vintage RINs, which appears to contradict the plain language of the RFS provisions in the Clean Air Act. In addition, the RFS’s waiver provisions contemplate that EPA will make a year-by-year evaluation of the potential for severe harm to the economy or inadequate domestic supply, and it is not clear how EPA can meet this statutory directive in setting a multiyear standard.

Posted by Margaret Peloso at 11/24/2014 4:20 PM

Task Force Recommends Final Guidance for How GHGs Should be Considered Under NEPA Review

(Adaptation, Federal GHG regulations) Permanent link
 
On November 17, 2014, the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience (“Task Force”) released a wide-ranging set of recommendations for how to better prepare communities and the federal government for the effects of climate change. As part of this report, the Task Force recommended finalizing a 2010 draft guidance document on how federal agencies assess greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions and climate change impacts of major federal actions during National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) reviews. The Task Force was co-chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”), and the Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. The Task Force also included a number of governors, majors, county officials, and tribal leaders.

It is interesting that an effort co-led by CEQ recommended a finalize guidance document, given that the CEQ recently rejected a petition to do just that. The CEQ is tasked with ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under NEPA. According to the agency website, the “CEQ oversees Federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process and acts as a referee when agencies disagree over the adequacy of such assessments.” This includes releasing guidance on how agencies should conduct their NEPA reviews.

In 2010 the CEQ issued draft guidance in response to a 2008 petition from environmentalists seeking to revise NEPA regulations and guidance on how agencies should assess projects’ GHG impacts. The draft said that agencies should consider GHGs in a project’s environmental impact statement if it is expected to emit more than 25,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent. Several years lapsed without any final guidance document. As reported in this previous post, CEQ finally denied the petition in August 2014, finding that climate change already falls within the scope of impacts that are to be considered under NEPA.

The issue of climate change considerations during the NEPA review process has also resulted in court decisions which are creating a growing body of case law regarding what federal agencies must consider. As described in this previous post, courts have vacated agency actions and held that agencies failed to comply with NEPA because the “agencies failed to disclose the social, environmental, and economic impacts of GHG emissions” resulting from their approvals for private actions. As more courts reach similar holdings, federal agencies will know more about the specific contours of analysis that they need to conduct when assessing a project’s climate change impacts.

While the courts can help flesh out the NEPA review requirements, these decisions could also result in conflicting or piecemeal guidance. This could be problematic for federal agencies that must determine how they will review GHGs in a wide range of jurisdictions. Rather than waiting and hoping that the courts will reach a consensus on the issue, the Task Force encourages the administration to create a single national policy. As the Task Force report notes, “projects and investments are being advanced without adequate and coordinated consideration of the project design or alternatives relative to climate impacts and greenhouse gas emissions, a direction that generates unacceptable public health, safety, and financial risks for communities.” Finalize guidance from the CEQ could provide greater clarity and certainty to agencies as they performed NEPA reviews, as well as better guidance for the courts as they evaluate challenges to the NEPA reviews.

Posted by Corinne Snow at 11/20/2014 4:55 PM

EPA Releases Final Climate Change Adaptation Plans

(Adaptation) Permanent link
 

On Friday, October 31, 2014, EPA released its final Climate Change Adaptation Plan, announcing how the Agency will implement its programs, policies, rules, and operations in light of changing climactic conditions. This document coincided with the fifth anniversary of President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, and the first anniversary of Executive Order 13653 – Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.

The final Climate Change Adaptation Plan was revised from previous drafts following public comment periods, and will be periodically updated in future years based on new data, scientific evidence, and experience in climate adaptation planning. This post focuses on the ten “priority actions” that EPA says it will take to ensure that its programs, policies, rules, and operations will respond effectively to future climactic conditions:

  • EPA will fulfill commitments made in its FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan. EPA’s FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan established “Strategic Performance Measures” for integrating climate adaptation into the agency’s regular operations by 2015. The Strategic Plan committed EPA to consider climate change science and adaptation in (1) five rulemaking processes, (2) five major grant, loan, contract, or technical assistance programs, and (3) five major scientific models or decision-support tools.

  • EPA will fortify its facilities and operations against extreme weather events. EPA will guard its workforce, operations, and infrastructure against catastrophic weather events such as severe storms, floods, and rising sea levels. Some of the Agency’s low-lying coastal facilities are especially susceptible to these events. For example, Hurricane Ivan badly damaged parts of EPA’s Gulf Ecology Division Laboratory when it landed on Florida’s Gulf Coast in September 2004. Afterward, EPA replaced parts of the facility with new structures that incorporate hurricane mitigation techniques. EPA plans to implement these design measures across similarly-situated facilities.

  • EPA will consider unresolved legal issues in adaptation planning and rulemaking. EPA advises its managers and staff to routinely consult with its legal offices in order to address unresolved legal questions related to its adaptation program. For example, EPA may need to define the scope of its authority to incorporate climate adaptation measures in its financial assurance mechanisms. The agency must also determine whether it has authority to consider climate change impacts in setting standards or issuing permits under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

  • EPA will provide adaptation education and training for its staff and partners. Through ongoing education and training programs, EPA wants to strengthen the adaptive capacity of its own staff and states, tribes, and local communities. Initially, EPA wants to increase awareness of the importance of climate change adaptation and encourage these groups to factor climate change into their routine business activities and decision-making processes.

  • EPA will develop decision-support tools that reflect current climate change knowledge. EPA is developing decision-support tools that will help its staff integrate climate adaptation into their current work and decision-making processes. EPA notes that some standard practices and methods may no longer be effective because they do not account for climate change. For example, current methods used to estimate the probability and frequency of floods are based on the assumption that the climate is relatively stable, rather than continuously changing.

  • EPA will identify areas for future climate research and create a cross-agency information database. In order to identify the most important research needs related to adaptation, the EPA Office of Research and Development will coordinate with Regional Offices to identify areas where climate-related research can enhance existing models, tools, and data. EPA also plans to form a central repository of climate change information that will serve as a common resource for EPA staff, other federal agencies, and non-federal entities.

  • EPA will increase the adaptive capacity of tribes. EPA believes that tribes may be disproportionately affected by climate change because they depend on natural resources for their livelihood, yet they possess limited resources to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related hazards. The agency pledges to help tribes assess their vulnerabilities to climate change and plan and implement adaptation actions.

  • EPA will increase its focus on vulnerable people and places. In addition to the previous priority action, EPA is also focusing on groups, such as children, the elderly, and the poor, that are vulnerable to health and environmental impacts of climate change. In addition, communities living in low-lying and coastal areas, subsistence fishing communities and agricultural communities suffer disproportionately from droughts or severe storms. These groups frequently lack access to information about climate change issues. Through ongoing communication and education efforts, EPA hopes to improve these groups’ capacity to predict, prepare for, and avoid adverse impacts.

  • EPA will continuously monitor and evaluate its own performance. The Adaptation Plan emphasizes EPA’s need to systematically evaluate its own progress in integrating climate change adaptation into its programs, policies, and operations. EPA will use lessons learned from past experience to inform its future efforts to integrate climate adaptation planning into its activities.

  • EPA will develop and implement Program and Regional Office Implementation Plans. The 2011 EPA Policy Statement on Climate-Change Adaptation called for EPA National Environmental Program Offices and Regional Offices to develop their own Implementation Plans. These Plans will provide details on how the EPA’s regional bodies will incorporate climate adaptation in their planning and programs. This approach also offers these offices the flexibility to create plans that fit their specific circumstances. EPA will also encourage these bodies to share their experiences and lessons learned, and coordinate on issues experienced across Agency programs and regions.

Together, these ten priority actions highlight the areas where EPA will focus its climate change adaptation research, planning, and rulemaking in the coming years. In addition, the Plan reflects a strong commitment by EPA to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of individual states, tribes, and local communities. The final Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans developed by EPA’s National Environmental Program Offices and ten Regional Offices provide additional details on how EPA Programs and Regions will execute the goals announced in the agency-wide Plan. Some of the measures in these Implementation Plans will be the subject of subsequent posts.

Posted by Jordan Rodriguez at 11/19/2014 0:00 PM

China’s National Plan for Climate Change (2014-2020)

(Adaptation, International) Permanent link
 

On November 4, 2014, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) released the National Plan for Climate Change, 2014-2020 (the “2014-2020 Plan”). The 2014-2020 Plan outlines what China hopes to achieve by 2020, including goals relating to greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, climate change adaptability, and a national emissions trading scheme, among others.

Of particular note, the 2014-2020 Plan states that by 2020, total GHG emissions from steel and cement sectors should stabilize at 2015 levels. This target, although likely non-binding, is the closest China has come to implementing an absolute emissions cap and could potentially forecast more comprehensive post-2020 measures. 

Background
In 2009, in advance of the Copenhagen climate negotiations, the Chinese government pledged to cut carbon intensity by 40% to 45% by 2020 below 2005 levels. In 2011, the National People’s Congress (“NPC”), as part of its 12th Five-Year Plan (“12th FYP”), officially documented the 2020 pledge on its national policy. As the primary domestic policy for the period from 2011 to 2015 in China, the 12th FYP details key economic and development policies and priorities for the next five-year period, and energy and climate change were featured prominently in the 12th FYP. In particular, the NPC set certain interim targets towards achieving the 2020 Copenhagen commitments. Key targets set out in the 12th FYP Plan included:  

  1. Increasing non-fossil fuel resources to 11.4% of primary energy consumption by 2015;
  2. Reducing energy intensity by 16% between 2010 and 2015; and
  3. Reducing carbon intensity by 17% between 2010 and 2015.  

The 12th FYP also promised to improve statistical monitoring for GHG emissions and to gradually establish a national carbon emissions trading scheme. 

Implementing the 12th FYP climate measures has proven challenging, but in a speech at the September U.N. Climate Summit in New York, Zhang Gaoli, Vice Premier of the State Council, stated that carbon intensity in 2013 was 28.5% lower than it was in 2005. Additionally, over the past two years, China established seven regional emissions-trading pilot programs, and the government recently announced that it would launch a pilot national trading market in 2016, and then formally establish a national trading market in 2020.

The 2014-2020 Plan
Although the full text of the 2014-2020 Plan was not publicly available until November 4, 2014, the China State Council formally approved 2014-2020 Plan drafted by the NDRC on September 17, 2014—immediately preceding the U.N. Climate Summit in New York.

The 2014-2020 Plan, designed to ensure China meets its 2020 Copenhagen commitments, establishes guidelines for addressing climate change through 2020. It articulates a number of goals for reducing GHG emissions, improving climate change adaptability, promoting low-carbon development, bolstering China’s efforts to develop a national carbon trading scheme, and strengthening international cooperation. 

The 2014-2020 Plan discusses potential GHG emission reductions in a variety of sectors, but the focus of the Plan’s emissions reduction efforts was on reductions in industrial sectors and the construction industry. For example, the 2014-2020 Plan states that by 2020, the country will strive to reduce CO2 emissions per unit of industrial added value by 50% below 2005 levels. Of particular note, the 2014-2020 Plan states that by 2020, total CO2 emissions from the steel and cement sectors will stabilize at 2015 levels. Although this target falls well short of an economy-wide absolute cap on CO2 emissions, it is the closest China has come to implementing an absolute emissions reduction target. Moreover, emissions from Chinese steel and cement producers currently make up about one-fifth of the country’s total CO2 emissions, so progress in those sectors could have a significant impact.

That said, questions remain regarding the implementation and enforcement of the caps articulated in the 2014 –2020 Plan. The NDRC did not provide guidance on how emissions reductions in the steel and construction sectors would be achieved. It also did not explain what, if anything, would happen if steel and cement producers failed to cap emissions by 2020. However, in light of a series of official announcements made by top Chinese officials, the enactment of the new environmental law, and the domestic pressure due to the air and water pollution, it appears likely that China will actively implement the 2014 –2020 Plan.

Providing additional evidence of China’s commitment to these efforts, China and the U.S. announced a historic climate change agreement at the close of the November APEC Summit in Beijing on November 11, 2014. In the agreement, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, confirmed that China will peak CO2 emissions no later than 2030 and increase the use of non-fossil energy to 20% by 2030.

Posted by Lauren Sidner and Ji Yun at 11/12/2014 5:00 PM

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Writes in Support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Recommends Additional Emission Reductions

(Federal GHG regulations) Permanent link
 
On November 5, 2014, the nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”) submitted comments on EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rule for proposed existing power plants source performance standards (Clean Power Plan). For more information about EPA’s proposed approach, see this previous post.

The comment letter was written by commissioners, directors, and secretaries of environmental and energy agencies from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont (collectively the “RGGI” states). These states have a unique perspective on the Clean Power Plan because they have been running a multi-state program to reduce GHGs. The RGGI uses a market-based approach to distribute CO2 allowances through regional auctions. As a result of this experience, the RGGI was able to include data on its own program to help inform EPA’s decision about how to regulate in this area.

Much of the letter is devoted to supporting EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The letter notes that there is an “urgent need for strong federal action to reduce” GHGs and commends EPA for proposing a rule that “recognize[es] the success of the RGGI and other existing state energy programs to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants cost effectively.” The RGGI letter also voices support for EPA’s somewhat controversial proposal to include “beyond-the-fenceline” measures to reduce power plant emissions. The RGGI is particularly supportive of EPA’s multi-state and mass-based measurement approach in the proposed rule. Not all responses have been as positive as the RGGI’s letter. As previously discussed, a number of governors and industry groups have voiced concerns about the logistics and expense of implementing EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

The RGGI letter also identifies additional ways to “strengthen the effectiveness of the final rule and increase emission reductions.” The letter argues that ‘[a]lthough a 30 percent nationwide CO2 emission reduction from 2005 levels by 2030 is meaningful progress, it does not put the nation on a trajectory to achieve the 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 that scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of a changing climate.” In order to achieve additional reductions, the RGGI recommends “aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.” The letter notes that the “RGGI states have already achieved a 40 percent reduction in regional CO2 emissions from the electricity sector from 2005 levels.” Contrary to other reports, the RGGI argues that these additional reductions are possible without harming the economy.

The RGGI comment letter also flagged the following concerns with the Clean Power Plan:
  • EPA should improve the methodologies that it proposes using to covert from rate-to-mass based approaches to measuring emissions.
  • EPA should explicitly prohibit “double-counting” of emission reductions from energy efficiency (“EE”) and renewable energy (“RE”) measures under the rate-based approach to measuring emissions reductions.
  • Modifications should be made to the four “building blocks” to promote equity among the different state emission targets and recognize states who have already taken early action to reduce emissions.
  • EPA should clarify inconsistencies in the definition of “affected course,” which differ between the preamble and proposed text of the rule.
  • EPA should clarify how the Clean Power Plan would apply to the RGGI program. 
The day after RGGI filed this comment letter, EPA issued additional guidance on how to translate rate-based CO2 goals to mass-based equivalents. EPA granted a 45-day extension to the period for public comment on the Clean Power Plan, and will continue to accept comments until December 1, 2014.

Posted by Corinne Snow at 11/11/2014 3:45 PM






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