Sunday, December 17, 2017

As states wait on Clean Power Plan ruling, Alabama says it will write own if challenge unsuccessful

Alabama will write its own Clean Power Plan rules if challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposals are unsuccessful, a senior official in the state’s environmental management department said.

The state is one of 27 challenging the federal government’s signature Clean Power Plan, launched last year but delayed on the orders of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oral arguments will be heard this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

States opposed to the plan have done little to implement any element of it, and Alabama is no exception, Ron Gore, head of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s Air Division, told EP News Wire.

“As a matter of fact no matter know the D.C. court rules, the Supreme Court is going to review the rule change,” Gore said, “and until the Supreme Court rules we are not going to implement anything, and that could take at least a year.”

If the Clean Power Plan eventually prevails, "we almost certainly will write a plan as a substitute to the federal plan,” Gore said. The state has to retain control, he said.

Attorney General Luther Strange filed suit on behalf of the state, but, Gore said, his department and its officials “do concur with the position that the EPA does not have the authority to introduce the Clean Power Plan as proposed.”

The introduction of the Clean Power Plan, announced last year, was delayed by legal action. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the stay ahead of the D.C. Circuit hearing.

The full bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, minus two judges who recused themselves, will hear oral arguments Sept. 27. Judgment on the case is likely to be handed down later this year.

Twenty-seven states and many power companies, particularly those involved in the production and use of coal, oppose the plan. Apart from the EPA, supporters include 18 states and next generation energy companies.

The EPA claims the plan will provide annual benefits worth $20 billion and that other various “co-benefits” could be worth an additional $14 billion to $34 billion. The agency claims the costs will be $9 billion each year.

But one study, by NERA Economic Consulting for an industry group, estimated the Clean Power Plan will cost $41 billion annually.

And one economist said the government analysis of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is deeply flawed, overestimating the benefits and underestimating the costs.

Dr. Jonathan Lesser, of Continental Economics, told EP News Wire previously that his cost benefit analysis of the plan concludes the EPA’s own deep dive into its impact was “sloppy.”

“My conclusion is there may be an agreement to have some sort of carbon policy, say a carbon tax,” Lesser said. “But from a cost-benefit perspective, it makes no sense.”

Lesser’s study was commissioned by the right-leaning free-market think tank, the Manhattan Institute.

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Alabama Department of Environmental Management 1400 Coliseum Boulevard Montgomery, AL - 36110

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