States Seek Flexibility in EPA Climate Regs

HAMM, GERMANY - MAY 23: Power lines lead away from the Kraftwerk Westfallen coal-burning power plant on May 23, 2011 in Hamm, Germany. The plant, operated by German utilities giant RWE Power AG, was originally built in the 1970s, though two new additions under construction as part of a modernization effort will increase the plant's output by 1,600 Megawatts for a total capacity of 1,884 Megawatts. The future of Germany's energy supply is currently a hot topic of political controversy. The government has pledged to hasten the country's withdrawal from nuclear energy and pledged support for renewable energy sources, including solar parks, wind turbine farms and biomass projects, yet burning coal is and will remain the main means of electricity production for at least many decades to come.  (National Journal)

Though the Environmental Protection Agency won't release draft regulations to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants until next summer, states have already begun to weigh in on the rule-making.

Representatives from 15 states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Monday asking for flexibility in implementing the upcoming rules.

The letter touts emissions reductions already achieved in each of the states and asks EPA to allow states to use a range of existing programs to achieve carbon cutbacks under the standard. Further, the signatories ask EPA to allow states to take a broad-based approach to cutting carbon emissions, encouraging policies that take the overall energy sector and its makeup into account within each state rather than dealing only with imposed limits on individual power plants.

"States have always been the laboratories of innovation," Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board and one of the letter's signers, said in a statement. "We fully support an approach that allows states to develop their own programs and use comprehensive policy tools that improve the power sector as a whole."

The letter comes as part of a wider push by states to influence the rulemaking ahead of its release.

Earlier in the month, members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a coalition of states that have voluntarily adopted regional power-plant emission limits, penned a letter asking the agency for leeway in using their current cap-and-trade policy as a way of achieving the standard when it debuts.

In November, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners similarly called for the agency to give states flexibility in meeting the targets.

Read the full letter here.