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EPA: Clean Power Plan repeal will avoid $33B in costs

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking kicking off the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, a move the agency says will save $33 billion in avoided costs in 2030.

In a press release issued Oct. 10, the EPA announced the conclusion of its review of the regulation, determining that the entire carbon-cutting rule for existing power plants must be repealed as it exceeds the agency's statutory authority. Repealing the rule will facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens associated with the development of those resources, the agency said. This would be in keeping with President Donald Trump's March executive order on energy independence.

"The Obama administration pushed the bounds of their authority so far with the [Clean Power Plan] that the Supreme Court issued a historic stay of the rule, preventing its devastating effects to be imposed on the American people while the rule is being challenged in court," Pruitt said. "We are committed to righting the wrongs of the Obama administration by cleaning the regulatory slate. Any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule."

The press release showed a photo of Pruitt signing a regulatory document, apparently in his office at EPA headquarters. The text of that document was not made immediately available, but the EPA later posted a copy of the notice to its web site.

Pruitt said the Obama administration ignored states' concerns when crafting the Clean Power Plan and "eroded longstanding and important partnerships that are a necessary part of achieving positive environmental outcomes." The agency now has the chance to assess whether "further regulatory action is warranted, and, if so, what is the most appropriate path forward, consistent with the Clean Air Act and principles of cooperative federalism," the administrator added.

The notice of proposed rulemaking has been submitted to the Federal Register, and a 60-day public comment period subsequently will be held. According to the release, the preamble lays out the legal and policy interpretations along with a summary of the cost-benefit analysis of the rule. Also included in the rule package will be the regulatory impact analysis, a document that typically lays out the regulatory backing for a rule.

The repeal rulemaking re-evaluated what the Obama administration found to be the costs and benefits associated with implementation, according to the EPA. Specifically, the agency is shifting focus away from the rule's international benefits and towards its domestic benefits; re-evaluating the co-benefits of reducing carbon; and changing the way energy efficiency is counted as a benefit in the final rule.

"The Obama administration counted 'energy efficiency' results of their rule as an avoided cost, resulting in a cost estimate being considerably lower than it would have been if they used the appropriate practice of considering these effects as benefits, rather than subtracting them from costs," the EPA release said. "Had the Obama administration used the Office of Management and Budget's longstanding requirements and accounted cost and savings accordingly, it would have presented a more accurate accounting of the total cost of the [Clean Power Plan]."