In an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting, RAP principal and US programs director Rich Sedano called on states to “get into a problem-solving mode if they want to be prepared for the best outcomes,” related to pending US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for existing power plants. He encouraged states to engage the federal government in civil discussions and to articulate how the state will make the best of pending regulations no matter what happens.
The interview followed Mr. Sedano’s presentation, Advice to States Considering Greenhouse Gas Rules for Existing Generation, at the West Virginia University Law School’s 2014 Energy Conference. He recommended that states develop credible, transparent processes—with broad stakeholder participation and solid evidence—which can form a foundation for defensible greenhouse gas reductions while minimizing costs. Getting ahead of the curve is critical, as early action is likely to be rewarded and will allow for better understanding of the problems and challenges associated with the regulations.
Mr. Sedano advised that taking no action was risky, “because of the possibility that the rule goes into place and imposes requirements” that states are unprepared to meet. By getting involved now, states “can articulate the political, emotional, and business oriented” concerns, while also engaging stakeholders and neighboring states and planning for the most cost-effective compliance approaches.
Mr. Sedano closed his presentation by mentioning the three absolutes—death, taxes, and litigation of EPA regulations. He said, “There’s a knife edge that EPA is being asked to walk on. They need to act and they need to act in a way that is meaningful…There are strong voices and strong legal artilleries on both sides of this question. The chances of EPA getting it exactly right, so that everyone is happy is pretty remote and a lot more remote than the chances that one or the other or both won’t be happy…and that it will be litigated.”
Considering the uncertainties Mr. Sedano urges that, “[S]tates should do their best problem-solving now, to get themselves in a position to comply with whatever happens.”
RAP’s Further Preparing for EPA Regulations reviews pending public health and environmental regulations likely to have significant impacts on the electric system, and offers guidance to state energy regulators whose public utilities are faced with the challenge of achieving affordable environmental compliance while maintaining reliable electricity service.