- The Environmental Protection Agency has delayed finalizing three of its landmark carbon dioxide emissions regulations for power plants until the summer, The Hill reports. The regulation for new power plants had been scheduled to be finalized in January 2015, while the modified and existing plant rules were scheduled to be finalized in June 2015.
- The EPA now plans to finalize its emissions rules for new, existing, and modified power plants all at the same time in "mid-summer," the agency told reporters Wednesday. Agency officials say they need more time to review the more than 4 million comments submitted on the three regulatory plans and better align the three sets of rules.
- The EPA also announced it would begin a rulemaking process on a federal implementation plan (FIP) for states that do not set up their own compliance plans for the suite of new regulations.
The Clean Power Plan is among the most ambitious and consequential energy regulation ever proposed in the United States. Early last month, the EPA revealed it had received more than 4 million comments on the regulatory scheme. The carbon regulations for new power plants were scheduled to be finalized tomorrow, following the one-year timeline required by the Clean Power Plan.
“It’s become clear to us … that there are cross-cutting topics that affect the standards for new sources, for modified sources and for existing sources, and we believe it’s essential to consider these overlapping issues in a coordinated fashion,” Janet McCabe, the acting EPA administrator for air quality, told reporters in explanation of the delay.
The agency also announced it would begin drafting a federal implementation plan for the new rules, aimed at states critical of the regulations. While the existing rules require states to submit plans to comply with the EPA's pollution goals, SNL reports that many have already challenged the regulations in court and others, notably Texas, have signaled they may not comply with the rules. The FIP would apply to any states that refuse to devise their own compliance plans.
Many utilities feel the regulations go too far, too fast, specifically taking issue with rules that will require the retirement of large amounts of coal-fired generation. Many environmentalists, while generally supportive, feel the plan leans too heavily on natural gas and does not properly incentivize renewable energy.
The delay in finalization means congressional Republicans will have to wait until the summer to hold votes against the plan, The Hill reports. EPA officials denied that congressional animosity had anything to do with the delay, and released a full, revised schedule of its plans for implementation.