Alabama officials have delayed creating a plan to meet carbon emission regulations because they are confident the court will uphold a stay on the federal Clean Power Plan.
The Clean Power Plan was developed under the Clean Air Act by Congress. The plan requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with states to help reduce air pollution harmful to public health. It is the first plan of its kind to establish national regulations to limit the amount of carbon pollution from power plants.
A statement from the White House said the Clean Power Plan sets carbon pollution reduction goals for power plants and enables states to develop tailored implementation plans to meet those goals.
The objective of the final plan is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, which is a 9 percent increase from the initial proposal.
After the Aug. 3, 2015 announcement of the final plan by the Obama administration, more than half the states in the country filed legal challenges.
“I want to emphasize more than half the states in the country have gone to court to tell the government and EPA this plan is illegal,” Ron Gore, Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) air quality division chief, told EP NewsWire.
Individual states must submit a final plan or initial plan with an extension request by Sept. 16. The EPA can grant an extension of up to two years.
But Gore said Alabama state officials are confident the courts will rule in their favor and grant a stay on the plan.
“We don’t want to waste efforts,” Gore said. “If we’re wrong and the court doesn’t grant a stay, we have enough time between spring and September to do whatever we need to do.”
Creating a plan would take a significant amount of time and resources the state thinks could be better expended elsewhere, Gore said.
If the lawsuit fails and states do not submit a final plan or initial plan with an extension request, there is the possibility of the implementation of federal compliance measures.
The states filing suit have asked for the court to rule quickly, and Gore said they are hoping for a decision by March or April.
In addition to Alabama, other states challenging the plan include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
States defending the plan include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
The EPA has a toolbox of resources to help states develop strategies to meet the Clean Power Plan regulations. According to the website, Alabama’s 2030 goal is 1,018 pounds per megawatt-hour, meaning Alabama’s state goals are moderate when compared to other states’ goals.