Path Ahead For DEP Developing A PA Plan To Meet EPA Clean Power Rule
This first-ever federal rule to curb carbon pollution from power plants seeks to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030 by requiring states to come up with carbon reduction measures in the form of amendments to their Air Quality State Implementation Plans.
While there are no details at this time, Pennsylvania state law requires extensive public participation in the development of an amendment to the State Implementation Plan and a specific law was passed in 2014 requiring a special review procedures for state plans developed to implement Section 111(d).
State Air Pollution Control Act
All amendments to the state Air Quality State Implementation Plan are reviewed by DEP’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee and subject to public hearings as required by the state Air Pollution Control Act.
Any regulations required to implement the revision to the State Implementation Plan are, in addition, also reviewed by the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee and DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council, require approval by the 20-member Environmental Quality Board, review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the environmental committees of the House and Senate under the state Regulatory Review Act.
Regulations can be disapproved by the IRRC and the House and Senate can pass a resolution, just like a piece of legislation, to kill the regulations and present it to the Governor for his action.
Any changes in state law required to implement the EPA Section 111(d) requirements would have to be passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor.
PA Greenhouse Gas Regulation Implementation Act
In addition to these basic reviews, the PA Greenhouse Gas Regulation Implementation Act passed in 2014 establishes a review process by the General Assembly and a one-House veto of any Section 111(d) climate plan DEP would develop in response to a final EPA regulation.
The law was promoted by Pennsylvania’s coal industry as a way to protect their interests in any Section 111(d) plan developed by DEP.
The Act also outlines a series of 12 factors DEP is to take into consideration in developing a Section 111(d) plan.
A new measure-- House Resolution 259 (Neuman-D-Washington)-- was introduced in April in the House to create yet another tool for the General Assembly to dictate the content of any Section 111(d) plans in Pennsylvania.
The resolution would create a Joint Senate-House Select Committee on the Implementation of EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation to “examine, investigate and complete a report on the most appropriate manner in which to comply with the federal carbon dioxide rule.”
In addition, the resolution says, “It is the intention of this Select Committee to further direct the Department of Environmental Protection in the development of the State Implementation Plan that will ultimately be submitted to the House of Representatives and the Senate for approval.”
The resolution is in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. Click Here for a sponsor summary.
PA Climate Change Act
Under the 2008 PA Climate Change Act, DEP was directed to developed and has developed a Climate Change Action Plan with recommendations on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
A Climate Change Advisory Committee was formed to help in that process and has been helping guide DEP in the development of the Action Plan, an adaptation plan, a greenhouse gas inventory and other work plans associated with its responsibility.
NGA Technical Assistance
Pennsylvania will also benefit from a National Governor’s Association initiative to provide states technical support in identifying cost-effective strategies for implement a final EPA Clean Power Rule.
Pennsylvania was one of four states, including Michigan, Missouri and Utah, to receive tailored modeling of their electricity sector to assess compliance options.
The Path Forward
Once EPA has finalized the Section 111(d) regulations, the job of the Department of Environmental Protection will be to develop a plan to implement those regulations taking into account all the various reviews required of that plan and its related regulations under state law within the timeframes established by EPA in the final rule.
Under the Corbett Administration, DEP submitted comments on the Section 111(d) proposal by EPA that raised basin concerns with the outline and details of the Plan.
Since taking office, both Gov. Wolf and DEP Secretary John Quigley have said they will take a different approach on Section 111(d) than the Corbett Administration, while coming up with a “Pennsylvania solution” to the issue that respects the role coal plays in the state.
The specifics will, no doubt, unfold at some point after EPA’s announcement Monday.
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