More CPP hearings and more comments from the Senate
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January 19, 2018
More CPP hearings and more comments from the Senate

The EPA originally scheduled only one 2-day public hearing on its proposal to repeal the Obama EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) in Charleston, West Virginia, the heart of coal country (proposal published in October 16, 2017, FR). While the location of the November 28–29, 2017, hearings was found wholly appropriate by the mining sector and other industry groups, many environmental and public health groups and their advocates on Capitol Hill protested loudly that more public hearings in other parts of the country were in order, given the repercussions of the proposed repeal. (The groups also claimed that 80 percent of the speakers at the Charleston hearings voiced opposition to repealing the CPP.) 

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Subsequently, the EPA announced that three more hearings would be held—in Kansas City, Missouri, and San Francisco, California, in February 2018 and Gillette, Wyoming, in March 2018. That was not enough for government leaders in three East Coast states, who said their region had been intentionally excluded as host sites for the hearings. Accordingly, hearings on the CPP and the proposed repeal were held independent of the EPA in Delaware, Maryland, and New York.

Repeal ‘irrational,’ says Carper

Also, announcement of the added public hearings has spurred a new round of reactions to the proposed repeal from members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), the congressional body with the primary responsibility of overseeing the EPA.

First, on January 8, 2018, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), EPW’s ranking member, used the meeting hosted by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources to repeat his belief that climate change is real and a growing threat to all Americans and that the commonsense approach behind the CPP is built on actions that states, cities, businesses, and utilities are already taking.

“The Clean Power Plan gives states and electric utilities the time and flexibility to meet reasonable carbon pollution emissions reduction targets, allowing five years until reductions need to begin,” said Carper. “The Clean Power Plan provided long-term certainty for our nation’s power sector and allowed the more than two-dozen states that have policies either limiting power sector carbon emissions, or expanding renewable energy, to integrate those policies into a national program.”

“Unfortunately, this Administration has decided to scrap all the good work the EPA has done with the Clean Power Plan and start from scratch,” Carper added. “All the while, the EPA Administrator continues to spout claims that perhaps the science is not clear on climate change and maybe we shouldn’t be doing anything. To say the actions by this Administration are a disappointment to me is an understatement. I believe walking away from the Clean Power Plan and other climate and clean air protections is not just irresponsible—it’s irrational.” (The text of Carper’s comment at the hearing is here.)  

Republicans say no authority in CAA to transform energy sector

Four days later, every Republican on the EPW Committee signed a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, which stated that the proposed repeal is the right action given that the CPP would have “pervasive, negative effects” that would have “driven up energy prices, eliminated American jobs, and hurt local communities that depend on coal.” (The Republican letter is here.)   

“Not only is the CPP bad policy, it is unlawful,” the Republicans wrote. “Congress did not give EPA the authority [in the Clean Air Act (CAA)] to transform our energy sector. The CPP would force coal plant closures and artificially shift electricity generation to other sources. As the Supreme Court has stated, EPA cannot ‘bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear Congressional authorization.’  The Supreme Court ‘expect[s] Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast “economic and political significance.’”

The 6-month comment period on the proposed repeal closes April 26, 2018.        

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