On September 9, 2014, the Energy and Power Subcommittee held a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) proposed Clean Power Plan (“CPP”) – a proposed rule designed to limit carbon dioxide emissions through state-developed plans.  The hearing’s focus was to obtain state officials’ perspectives on the challenges associated with implementing the CPP.  The hearing also marked the third time the Subcommittee has heard testimony on the CPP, which includes testimony from FERC commissioners earlier in the year (see July 29, 2014 edition of the WER).

The hearing’s witness list included state regulators from Texas, Montana, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Washington, along with state environmental officials from Arizona and Indiana. The regulators and environmental officials addressed a broad array of topics, including technical challenges, the feasibility of implementing the rule, reliability concerns, and cost related issues.

The witnesses from Texas, Montana, Indiana, and Arizona testified that the EPA’s CPP is unfeasible and unworkable in its current form.  These witnesses generally stated that the EPA should delay the implementation of the rule to allow states more time to analyze the impact the rule will have on each state, while also allowing each state to respond with an adequate plan.  These witnesses further testified that the EPA should be more responsive to each state’s unique concerns and comments with regard to the CPP.

The witnesses from Maryland and Washington disagreed that the rule should be delayed.  These state officials generally stated that while they have their own concerns with the CPP, they believe that the EPA should wait until all comments have been submitted until they decide to adjust the rule to address the states’ comments and concerns.

In addition to the timing of the rule and EPA’s responsiveness, some witnesses addressed the emission targets the EPA set for the states.  In general, these witnesses testified that the assumptions EPA made about each state’s electric systems were flawed.  They stated that the assumptions do not account for investments made in renewable energy, nor are the emission targets based on reasonable measures.  Furthermore, the same witnesses testified that the EPA’s CPP does not allow for flexibility within each state because of the inflexible emission target that each state is required to meet.
A copy of the Energy and Power Subcommittee’s press release is available here.  An archived webcast of the hearing is available here.