State-level Renewable Energy Regulations

by Emily Audet

States have often passed environmental regulations that extend past and are more stringent than federal regulations. With the current administration and Congress appearing to not prioritize sustainability nor clean energy regulations and legislation, pushes at state-level policy could be a viable political strategy for those concerned with advancing clean energy. As of January 2017, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have passed a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a type of regulation that bolsters use and production of renewable energy [http://midwestenergynews.com/2017/01/09/report-benefits-of-state-renewable-energy-policies-far-outweigh-costs/]. State-level RPSs significantly impact the nation’s energy landscape—RPSs caused the creation of the majority of all renewable energy projects established from 2000 to 2017, and if states fully implement existing RPSs, a projected 40% of the energy for the whole country will come from renewable sources by 2050. Continue reading

Clean Power Plan Faces an Uncertain Future

by Emily Audet

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), an enforcement plan of the Clean Air Act, establishes caps to carbon dioxide emissions of current power plants [https://www.law360.com/articles/880858/epa-denies-bids-to-reconsider-or-stay-clean-power-plan]. The CPP has been controversial since its beginning. In December 2016, Texas and West Virginia led 24 states in urging President Trump to overturn the CPP [http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/05/fate-of-the-clean-power-plan-remains-uncertain/]. In response, many states and cities requested the preservation of the plan.

The implementation of the CPP is on hold as of January 2017 by order of the Supreme Court as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reviews the legality of the plan, which could take days to years [https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-could-replace-the-clean-power-plan/].

On January 13, 2017, the EPA denied the majority of petitions challenging the plan or asking for a suspension of the plan’s implementation. The EPA claims that many of the petitions rejected by the EPA on January 13th raised similar issues to petitions included in the comment period of the CPP’s proposal. Of the 38 petitions asking for revisions of the plan, the EPA retained only 7 for further review. All 22 of the petitions advocating for a suspension of the CPP were rejected by the EPA on the grounds that the Supreme Court’s stay of the plan already achieves this end.

As of January 2017, the CPP’s future grows even more murky as it gets swept up in the uncertainty around environmental regulations in the new Trump administration. Throughout his campaign, Trump claimed that he would overturn the CPP, and an executive order from Trump could end the CPP, even before the courts release an official ruling on the plan. Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA under the new Trump administration, has expressed his opinion that the EPA’s strategy to lower carbon emissions should focus on individual technology innovations in firms to decrease emissions, rather than encouraging firms to move from coal to other, cleaner forms of energy, which the CPP currently does. If the new administration tried to weaken the CPP, environmental non-profits would likely bring the plan to court. If the CPP is overturned, the EPA continues to hold the authority to implement the Clean Air Act through other vehicles. As of January 2017, the EPA offers resources and other forms of support for states to implement similar regulations on the state-level [https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/clean-power-plan-existing-power-plants].

 

Rodriguez, Juan Carlos. “EPA Denies Bids To Reconsider Or Stay Clean Power Plan.” Law 360. N.p., 13 Jan. 2017. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. https://www.law360.com/articles/880858/epa-denies-bids-to-reconsider-or-stay-clean-power-plan

Profeta, Tim. “Fate of the Clean Power Plan Remains Uncertain.” National Geographic. N.p., 5 Jan. 2017. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/05/fate-of-the-clean-power-plan-remains-uncertain/

Holden, Emily. “What Could Replace the Clean Power Plan?” Scientific American. N.p., 23 Jan. 2017. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-could-replace-the-clean-power-plan/

US EPA. “Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants.” EPA. N.p., 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/clean-power-plan-existing-power-plants