EPA head says carbon regulations could change after comment period
- EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the public may see some changes to its proposed Clean Power Plan to regulate carbon emissions. Revisions are being developed from input gathered during an the agency's public comment period, which EPA has extended by 45 days until Dec. 1. The plan is still on track to be finalized by June 2015.
- McCarthy said the plan, which is designed to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020 and 30% by 2030, will include a technical document to be released "soon." The document will give states more guidance on converting a carbon intensity rate to a mass of carbon so the nine New England and Mid-Atlantic states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) can solicit other states’ participation.
- The EPA is also considering changes in the four emissions reduction building blocks states can use, including changes in the values of nuclear power and natural gas generation. Renewables and energy efficiency, according to McCarthy, make the Clean Power Plan feasible and offer a new value proposition for states and businesses.
The EPA Clean Power Plan is a "very big, long-term signal” to businesses “opening the door to investments” in renewables, energy efficiency, and emissions mitigating technologies, McCarthy said.
McCarthy emphasized the value of new U.S. natural gas supplies which, she said, “started an energy transition that we are really taking advantage of.” She also acknowledged the environmental impacts of methane emissions from natural gas drilling which, because they have 80-plus times the impact of CO2, could eliminate the benefits of replacing coal with natural gas.
McCarthy strongly endorsed the regional and market-based RGGI approach, but insisted the Clean Power Plan is not a cap-and-trade program and is “not about carbon offsets.”