US Senate Legislation Would Give States “Way Out” of U.S. EPA’s Clear Power Play

It’s been almost a year since President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) was released into the world. Yet, there’s still a lot of uncertainty and concern about what it will cost, whether states will be able to implement it and what amount of emission reductions it would actually produce.

In response to growing national opposition to the CPP, several U.S. Senators recently introduced a legislative “way out” for states who find that the rules would significantly harm their economy, grid reliability or increase consumer’s electric bills. The Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act (ARENA) challenges the carbon rules by delaying its compliance deadlines pending final judicial review. It tells EPA to develop separate standards for gas and coal-fired power plants using commercially available technology, and requires EPA to tell Congress how much CO2 is expected to be reduced. ARENA also prohibits EPA from withholding federal highway funds from states who are not able to achieve full compliance.

An exercise in checks and balances, this legislative attempt to curb executive overreach will also be challenged in the federal judicial system as soon as the final rules are released later this summer. The CPP rules have already complicated policy making decisions in Ohio. The state’s Energy Mandate Study Committee has heard from several witnesses that the two year “time-out” on state energy efficiency and renewable benchmarks, must now be extended in order to harmonize the state’s efforts toward energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements with new, stricter requirements, included in future federal rules.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has voiced concerns with several portions of the Clean Power Plan and submitted reply comments to the U.S. EPA that can be found here.