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When EPA announced new carbon regulations to restructure America’s electric system in June, it emphasized that public outreach associated with the rule would be “unprecedented,” and involve heavy cooperation with states. Upon unveiling the rule, Administrator Gina McCarthy said the rulemaking process would be “an absolute collaboration between the federal and state government…a partnership if there ever was one.”
In the 90+ days since the announcement, however, that cooperative spirit seems to have gone into hiding. States are weighing in with major concerns and requests regarding the substance of EPA’s rule and the process through which it is being developed, and EPA has gone quiet. Yesterday, the governors of 15 states (AL, AK, AZ, ID, IN, NM, MS, NC, ND, OK, PA, SC, UT, WI, and WY) wrote President Obama stating:
[T]he rule poses numerous practical problems for state compliance. These problems reflect your Administration’s decision to move forward with the proposed regulation without considering or understanding—among other crucial matters—our state energy markets and infrastructure needs. We request that your Administration provides informed plans to address these significant obstacles to state compliance and that it does so well in advance of the proposal’s comment deadline of October 16. If you cannot fulfill this obligation in time for states to incorporate the new information into their comments, your Administration should withdraw the proposal until it gives due consideration to these critical concerns.
As Indiana governor Mike Pence said in describing the letter:
“We knew these rules were bad when the EPA first released them, and they keep getting worse the more we learn. The proposal is ill-conceived, poorly constructed, and will cause significant harm in the states. We should be focused on an energy policy that pursues affordable and reliable energy, rather than a climate agenda that will drive up electricity prices without any discernible impact on global carbon dioxide emissions.”
Governors aren’t the only ones raising concerns. Attorneys General, air regulators, and utility commissioners are all calling on EPA to make major changes to its proposal. At a minimum, these state officials are pleading with EPA to extend its rushed and arbitrary deadline for public comment, so sufficient time is provided to review and assess the agency’s complex and far-reaching rule. Below is just a sampling of those raising substantive concerns and requesting that EPA extend its public comment deadlines:
- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Harrig
- Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
- Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Thomas Easterly
- Kansas Department of Health and Environment Director John Mitchell
- Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway
- Montana Public Service Commissioner Travis Kavulla
- Texas Public Utility Commissioner Kenneth Anderson
EPA asked the states for feedback, and promised “absolute collaboration” in return. It is clearly now the agency’s chance to live up to that commitment by addressing states’ substantive concerns, and extending the rapidly approaching October comment deadline.