States Ignoring Mitch McConnell, Working On Clean Power Plan: EPA

Last month Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged states to ignore the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, but the states are ignoring McConnell and working toward compliance, EPA Admninistrator Gina McCarthy said Friday at the University of Chicago.
Even states that are suing the EPA are preparing carbon-reduction plans, another official said, to meet their obligations under EPA's proposed rule, which McCarthy guaranteed will be implemented and predicted will surpass its stated goals.
"It is going to happen," McCarthy told about 120 people gathered at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and another 200 watching online. "We have the legal—not just right and authority but responsibility—to do it. People expect us to do it. I don't see any utility thinking we're not going to do it. So the politics are one thing and reality is another."
The Clean Power Plan sets carbon emission goals for each state, allowing states to decide how they will reach them. The plan is designed to help the U.S. meet the Obama Administration's pledge of a 28 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030—on track to an 83 percent reduction by 2050.
"I fully expect that what we're expecting for reductions in 2030 will be much higher by the time we get there," McCarthy said.
Newly installed as majority leader, Sen. McConnell (R-KY) sent a letter march 19 to all 50 of the nation's governors urging them to ignore EPA's mandate that states submit their carbon-reduction plans this summer.
"I hope you will carefully review the consequences before signing up for this deeply misguided plan," McConnell writes. "I believe you will find, as I have, that the EPA’s proposal goes far beyond its legal authority and that the courts are likely to strike it down…. Given the dubious legal rationale behind the EPA’s demands, rather than submitting plans now, states should allow the courts to rule on the merits of the CPP."
EPA officials have been meeting behind closed doors with energy and environmental regulators from the states, McCarthy said, and the tenor of those meetings suggests McConnell's letter had no effect.
"We're not having the contention in closed-door meetings that you would expect to see if you thought that Mitch McConnell's effort was going to be successful."
McCarthy characterized the EPA's meetings with states as "more robust and more engaging than in any rule that we have ever had," and she said they are proceeding as robustly now as before McConnell mailed his letter.
Another player in the negotiations backed McCarthy's account.
"I think states really are putting in the work on this right now," said Doug Scott, vice president of the Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development, which helps states transition to clean energy. "I've seen a lot of states that are buckling down and working on the plan. At Great States we're working with a number of states that are doing that, most of whom frankly oppose the rule. So I think they're doing their due diligence and pursuing the plan B if the legal challenges don't succeed."
Thirteen states have sued the EPA, challenging the agency's authority to compel them to reduce carbon emissions. It's telling, Scott said, that even those states are preparing for their lawsuit to fail.
If states do not submit compliance plans, the EPA will impose federal plans upon them. Some states may let that happen for political reasons, preferring an EPA-imposed rule to their own, Scott said. Others may opt for the federal plan simply because it's workable.
McCarthy appeared with Scott at "The Next Frontier of Climate Change," a discussion of state and local actions hosted by the New Republic magazine and the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC).
EPIC director Michael Greenstone emphasized the international importance of the Clean Power Plan.
"I think the impact of the Clean Power Plan can't be overstated," said Greenstone, a former Obama economic advisor who also serves as the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago. "It completely was a game changer. My view is that it led to the agreement with China in November. It led to China agreeing to reduce carbon emissions. The consequence was that it changed how people thought about what could possibly happen in Paris and that the world might actually begin to confront climate change in a meaningful way.
" So the Paris Conference—the world doing something about climate change—it all really turns on the Clean Power Plan . And now what does the Clean Power Plan depend on? It depends on states implementing what's in it."
Read More:

Tip Jar: If you found value on this page, please consider tipping the author.