Georgetown Climate Center Testifies in Opposition to Proposed Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

November 29, 2017

The Georgetown Climate Center's Sarah Duffy testified on Nov. 29 in opposition to the EPA's proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan at an EPA hearing in West Virginia.

Duffy focused her comments on three points: 1) urging EPA to hold additional public hearings in other locations, 2) making it clear that the Clean Power Plan does not interfere with state environmental or energy regulatory authority, nor would it cause significant harm to the economy, and 3) emphasizing that the changes made by EPA to the methodology used to calculate the impact of repeal are not based in sound science or regulatory precedent. Duffy's full testimony is available at the end of this post.

In a letter sent to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Nov. 28, Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, also urged the Trump Administration to expand opportunities for public input on its proposed repeal.

The West Virginia hearing is the only one scheduled in the United States. Before the Clean Power Plan was put into place, EPA held four hearings after engaging in listening sessions and unprecedented outreach across the United States. The plan would have cut carbon emissions from the power sector.

Below is an excerpt from the letter to Administrator Pruitt:

In developing the Clean Power Plan, EPA held four two-day public hearings: in Pittsburgh, PA; Denver, CO; Atlanta, GA; and Washington, DC. This followed previous “listening sessions” and unprecedented public outreach and engagement by EPA. Furthermore, in October 2017, you promised that “any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule.”3 In keeping with this promise, EPA should invite the same level of input on its proposal to repeal the CPP that it solicited in developing the policy. The states we work with provided extensive comments to EPA in crafting the CPP, and they have important expertise on the ways that this rule would affect state energy systems and residents. Several states individually requested public hearings on the proposed repeal to be held in their states. EPA should recognize the value of their perspectives and provide another forum for them to participate.

EPA has previously argued that it is more efficient to hold hearings in Washington, DC, because of the location of EPA’s headquarters and proximity to other interested stakeholders. At minimum, we respectfully request that EPA hold a hearing in Washington, DC, a location more easily accessible to more people in the country, to enable a broader set of stakeholders to participate in this important conversation.

 

Full Testimony from Sarah Duffy at EPA's Public Hearing on the Proposed Clean Power Plan Repeal


My name is Sarah Duffy. I live in Washington D.C., and I am speaking today on behalf of the Georgetown Climate Center.

The Georgetown Climate Center is a non-partisan, non-profit organization based at Georgetown Law that works with states to address climate change and to share state lessons with federal policymakers. We offer comment on three points.

  • First, we urge EPA to hold additional public hearings in other locations.
  • Second, the Clean Power Plan does not interfere with state environmental or energy regulatory authority, nor would it cause significant harm to the economy.
  • Third, the changes made by EPA to the methodology used to calculate the impact of repeal are not based in sound science or regulatory precedent.

EPA conducted unprecedented outreach to states and others in the development of the CPP. The EPA held four two-day public hearings: in Pittsburgh; Denver; Atlanta; and DC. In October 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt promised that “any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule.”

EPA has currently only scheduled this one public hearing in Charleston, West Virginia. While energy producers and residents in WV are two communities that stand to be affected by the Clean Power Plan, the impacts of climate change and the CPP affect every state in the country. Furthermore, Charleston, WV, is not an easy place to reach.  Therefore, we strongly encourage EPA to hold public hearings in other locations that are more accessible to a greater number of people to solicit input from other stakeholders regarding a federal rule of this scale and impact.

The CPP aligns with standard EPA rulemaking roles and compliance options are in line with typical practice in the power sector.  The Clean Air Act creates a federalist system by which the EPA establishes national standards and states develop plans to implement them.  This is the same approach as the roles agencies play in developing State Implementation Plans, which have been used for decades to reduce pollution. Under the CPP, states would have the flexibility to design programs and compliance pathways that make sense given in-state priorities and conditions.

The CPP also does not intrude on the jurisdiction of energy regulators. Any time an environmental regulation applies to the power sector, it affects decision making by generators and by energy regulators. Yet states have successfully regulated pollution from power plants for decades, while still ensuring affordable and reliable electricity service to customers.

Additionally, concerns that the CPP could cause significant economic harm are not well-founded.  We know from EPA’s own analysis that complying with the CPP will be less costly than the EPA had originally projected.  Furthermore, experiences in many states have already demonstrated that reducing emissions from the power sector does not harm the economy. A recent report by the Brookings Institution finds that between 2000 and 2014, 33 states decoupled their GHG emissions reductions from economic growth. For example, Maryland cut its emissions 20 percent while its GDP grew by 32 percent.

Finally, we would like to stress the importance of accurate regulatory impact analyses. EPA’s proposed changes to the methodology used to quantify climate change impacts and the public health benefits of pollution reduction are not based on EPA’s own scientific research, and would therefore set a dangerous precedent for future rulemakings.

We strongly disagree with EPA’s decision to limit its social cost of carbon estimate to only include impacts within U.S. borders. No nation is isolated physically or economically from the rest of the world; climate change will cause changes in commodity prices, disrupt global supply chains, and trigger new international migration and tourism patterns. As the world’s largest economy, which depends heavily on international trade and global markets, and as a country with a global military and humanitarian presence, the U.S. will experience significant costs from international climate impacts, and this reality is not reflected in a domestic-only estimate of the social cost of carbon.

EPA also diverged from standard practice when estimating the benefits of reductions in PM2.5 emissions. PM2.5, or fine particulate matter, is a dangerous health hazard and EPA’s own analysis of the health literature fails to support an analysis that considers no incremental health benefits associated with reductions below certain policy thresholds.

The proposed repeal also creates regulatory uncertainty. Utilities and generators have spent years preparing for CPP compliance, and now the regulatory environment is more uncertain. The EPA has a legal duty to regulate carbon emissions, an obligation that the Supreme Court made clear a decade ago.  Repealing the rule without a replacement and with no timeline will further delay necessary reductions in carbon emissions, while states and residents are already suffering from climate change impacts.

Thank you and we will be sending additional comments on behalf of our Executive Director and states we work with.