Industry group asks for more time to vet EPA power plant rule

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 9, 2014

U.S. EPA has already allotted more time than usual for public input on its bid to regulate power plant greenhouse gas emissions, but one industry group wants an even longer public comment period.

The Electric Reliability Coordinating Council yesterday asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a letter for an additional 60 days of public comment time beyond the 120 days the agency has already provided.

The current public comment period ends in mid-October — and already runs 60 days longer than what EPA provides for most rulemakings — but the coal industry lobbying group said the unprecedented breadth and scope of the agency’s draft rule for existing power plants warrants even more opportunity for public input.

ERCC Director Scott Segal wrote in the letter that the June 2 draft “represents a uniquely intrusive assertion of federal authority” over the states and raises questions about implementation and grid reliability that should be explored during a longer public comment period.

“The proposal is really an amalgamation of many different proposed rules, and includes both differing state-specific emissions rates for carbon and broad outlines for the development, submission and implementation of state plans,” he wrote. States and other stakeholders will have difficulty assessing what the proposal will mean for them before their comments to the agency are due, he said.

The proposal assigns different carbon intensity targets to all 50 states, based on a set of assumptions about what states can do to bring down their power plant carbon output between now and 2030. States are still grappling with how it will impact them, even as some already gird for court battles. Nine fossil-fuel-dependent states last week signed on to litigation spearheaded by Murray Energy Corp. that contends that EPA can’t move ahead with the rules at all because it is already regulating existing power plants for toxic emissions.