The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized plans for an optional cap-and-trade system states can use to comply with the agency’s global warming rule.
The EPA also finalized plans to reward states that move early to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, despite criticisms the agency is violating an order from the U.S. Supreme Court to halt its implementation of the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP).
States that refuse to implement the CPP could see the EPA impose a federally-run cap-and-trade program on its power plants. EPA sent the cap-and-trade plan to the White House for review Friday.
“Many states have asked EPA to move forward with our outreach and to continue providing support and developing tools related to the Clean Power Plan,” the EPA said, according to The Hill.
“We are developing these tools in a way that is consistent with the Supreme Court’s stay of the Clean Power Plan,” the agency said. “The model trading rules do not impose additional requirements, and states are not required to use them.”
EPA critics don’t agree. The CPP is being challenged in court by 27 states alongside dozens of industry and union groups who don’t want to see more coal-fired power plants shut down by federal regulations.
The Supreme Court sided with CPP challengers in February when it issued a stay against implementing the rule. But that didn’t stop EPA from moving forward with “voluntary” aspects of the rule, like the cap-and-trade system and Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP).
EPA sent its proposed CEIP to the White House in April. The CEIP would hand out subsidies to states that meet the federally-mandated carbon dioxide reduction goals early.
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told utility executives the agency would support states wanting to “move forward” in cutting emissions. McCarthy’s comments sparked fears the agency was looking for ways to violate the spirit of the Supreme Court stay.
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