On October 10, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a proposed rule that would repeal the Clean Power Plan, which has been a source of contention since it was first proposed by the EPA in June 2014. The Indiana Chamber views the Clean Power Plan as a vehicle for dramatic increase in energy prices for business and residential consumers with minimal improvement in air quality.
So, what impact will a repeal have on the utility industry and consumers? The jury is out. Although the rule is not being enforced, it has already caused most electricity generators across the U.S. and Indiana to act in efforts to stay ahead of the law. You can’t wait until the effective date to start planning on compliance with regulatory deadlines. Electric utilities have incurred costs by adding new environmental controls on existing generation units. They have also shut down or retro-fitted coal-fired generating units to other fuels. If repealed, it will allow utilities the ability to maintain a diversified portfolio of electricity generation (coal, gas, nuclear and/or renewables).
The Clean Power Plan has been the subject of litigation at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In its February 9, 2016 ruling, the United States Supreme Court ordered the EPA to halt enforcement of the plan until a lower court rules in the lawsuit against the plan. President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13777 on February 24, 2017, directing executive branch agencies to undertake regulatory reform. The EPA took public input on existing regulations that could be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome through May 15, 2017; this included the Clean Power Plan.
The formal action of the EPA’s notice to rescind the rule will appear in the Federal Register. The EPA will accept comments in this proposed rulemaking. After certain legal requirements are met (i.e. notice, public comment period, public hearing), the EPA can rescind/repeal the rule.