- Nine large electric utilities led by Consolidated Edison have petitioned the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to withdraw the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan and replace it with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule.
- The petition for review was filed Sept. 6 but was not widely reported. More than 20 states and several cities filed a similar challenge in August.
- The Trump administration finalized the new rule in June, premised on the EPA being authorized to regulate emissions only at the point of source — "inside the fence line," as opposed to requiring industry-wide reductions, as the Obama administration's plan did.
President Obama's Clean Power Plan garnered criticism for its reach, which went beyond individual plant upgrades and allowed generators to reduce emissions by adding renewable resources. The EPA argues that its new rule corrects regulatory overreach, but some utilities disagree
The fence-line interpretation of the Clean Air Act "excludes measures that EPA has historically allowed the power sector to use to reduce its emissions more cost effectively under both prior Republican and Democratic administrations, such as emissions trading, averaging and increasing generation from lower-emitting sources," the utilities said in a statement.
Along with Consolidated Edison, utilities signing on to the lawsuit include Exelon, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, National Grid, New York Power Authority, Pacific Gas and Electric, Public Service Enterprise Group, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and Seattle City Light. The utility companies have operations in 49 states and the District of Columbia, and collectively serve 23 million customers.
Trump's EPA said it expects carbon emissions from the electric sector to fall by as much as 35% below 2005 levels by 2030, under the ACE rule. When the Obama administration finalized the Clean Power Plan, it said it would reduce carbon emissions from the power sector 32% by 2030.
Opponents of ACE say reductions are largely due to market forces, including renewable energy cost declines.
The utility petition for review has been consolidated with other similar requests. EPA has petitioned to expedite the proceeding, arguing that "this case reflects a long-pending dispute in an unusually significant regulatory area." But the nine utilities challenging EPA, along with environmental groups and some Democratic leaning states, do not want the case expedited.