December 18, 2017 / 7:13 PM / 10 months ago

EPA seeks comment on carbon rule replacement

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday issued a notice that it wants public input for a possible replacement of Obama-era regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that the agency is repealing.

Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, answers a question during the Concordia Summit in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

The agency’s advance notice kicks off a 60-day comment period on “specific topics for the Agency to consider in developing any subsequent proposed rule,” according to an EPA release.

The move comes after the agency proposed in October to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, a collection of emissions standards for U.S. states intended to reduce pollution from power plants - the largest emitters of greenhouse gases - by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“The EPA sets out and requests comment on the roles, responsibilities, and limitations of the federal government, state governments, and regulated entities in developing and implementing such a rule, and the EPA solicits information regarding the appropriate scope of such a rule and associated technologies and approaches,” the notice says.

When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt first announced he planned to repeal the Clean Power Plan, it was not clear whether the agency intended to replace it. At his first congressional hearing earlier this month, Pruitt said he planned to replace it.

The notice specifically asks for comment on measures to reduce carbon emissions directly at a power plant.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan allowed states to reduce power plant emissions by using a series of different measures across their plant fleets, which some industry groups said went beyond the scope of the federal Clean Air Act.

The EPA is also asking for comment on the role and responsibility of states in regulating power plants for greenhouse gas emissions.

The notice said EPA also wants to hear from states including California and New York, which already have programs to reduce emissions from power plants, to see how their programs could interact with a replacement rule.

Environmental groups, who plan to continue challenging the agency’s moves against the CPP in court, said on Monday the agency is not serious about offering a valid replacement to the Obama-era regulation.

“A weaker replacement of the Clean Power Plan is a non-starter. Americans - who depend on EPA to protect their health and climate - deserve real solutions, not scams,” said David Doniger, director of climate and clean air at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis

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