Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials are moving ahead with a key part of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) despite the Supreme Court issuing a stay against the agency’s global warming plan in February.
The EPA submitted a proposal to the White House for green energy subsidies for states that meet the federally mandated carbon dioxide reduction goals early. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would give “credit for power generated by new wind and solar projects in 2020 and 2021” and a “double credit for energy efficiency measures in low-income communities,” according to Politico’s Morning Energy.
Te move seems to violate the Supreme Court’s stay against CPP preventing the EPA from implementing its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants. EPA, however, argues it’s doing this for states that want to voluntarily cut emissions — despite this being part of CPP.
“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the CEIP,” reads a statement provided to Politico from EPA.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is set to talk more about the plan Wednesday afternoon and will no doubt defend it from critics who will say the agency is violating a Supreme Court order.
“Sending this proposal to OMB for review is a routine step and it is consistent with the Supreme Court stay of the Clean Power Plan,” the EPA said.
EPA has been moving forward with aspects of the CPP despite the Supreme Court’s decision. After the court’s February decision, EPA began signalling it would continue to work with states that want to “voluntarily” move forward.
“Are we going to respect the decision of the Supreme Court? You bet, of course we are,” McCarthy told utility executives in February. “But it doesn’t mean it’s the only thing we’re working on and it doesn’t mean we won’t continue to support any state that voluntarily wants to move forward.”
Likewise, the head of EPA’s air and radiation office, Janet McCabe, has also suggested the rule will eventually be upheld.
“EPA utility rules have been stayed twice before, and ultimately upheld,” McCabe said while participating in a panel discussion in Bloomington, Ind., last week. “It’s only smart for states to keep working on this.”
“We stand ready at EPA to help any state that wants to move forward with their planning activities,” McCabe said, noting that some states pledged to cut CO2 after the Supreme Court stayed CPP.
McCabe was referring to an agreement signed by 17 states in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision pledging to push forward fighting global warming. The agreement, signed mostly by Democratic governors, promotes cooperation between states in promoting green energy, not explicitly mentioning global warming.
McCabe neglected to mention the 30 states and state agencies suing EPA to get CPP struck down. That coalition of states was also joined by dozens of business groups, the coal industry and labor unions fighting to keep coal-fired power plants from being forced to close.
“EPA has crossed a line by assigning itself vast regulatory authority that surpasses anything ever contemplated by Congress,” Jeffrey Connor, interim CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), said in a statement. NRECA opposes CPP.
“The fact is that EPA didn’t produce a rule simply to reduce emissions — it crafted a radical plan to restructure the U.S. power sector,” Connor said.
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