The Ohio Chamber of Commerce filed comments in U.S. EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule docket yesterday supporting the agency’s move to replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP stretched U.S. EPA’s authority in the Clean Air Act (CAA) beyond recognition, sought to usurp the authority of states to set their electric generating portfolio and would have required shifting generation to alternative fuel sources to comply with its stringent greenhouse gas emission (GHG) standards. The ACE rule shuns this approach and instead would establish emission guidelines for states to develop flexible, inside the fence performance standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired electric generating units.
The ACE rule grants states significant flexibility to account for factors such as unit age, fuel type and market conditions when setting performance standards. This framework ensures the development of fair, achievable compliance at individual sources. U.S. EPA’s proposal also makes significant improvements to the agency’s preconstruction New Source Review (NSR) permitting program. Regulated businesses have long recognized that the NSR requirements impeded investments to modernize power plants and other emitting facilities that could reduce emissions. The burden of NSR falls broadly on regulated facilities and the Ohio Chamber’s comments urge U.S. EPA to broaden its reform efforts to all applicable sectors.
CO2 emissions from the U.S. power sector fell 28 percent since 2005. Adoption of an ACE rule with further NSR reform will continue this trend of progress by promoting investments to make coal plants cleaner and more efficient. Ohio’s commitment to the environment and to the affordable energy needed to continue Ohio’s economic growth is strong and the Ohio Chamber supports U.S. EPA’s efforts.