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US EPA seeks comment on carbon rule replacement

19 Décembre 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday kicked off a process to replace the highly controversial Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation created to limit carbon emissions from power plants.

On Dec. 18, the EPA released an "advanced notice of proposed rulemaking" regarding new emission guidelines for reducing GHGs from electric utility generating units (EGUs).

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.

Pruitt at a House hearing this month committed for the first time to pursuing a replacement climate rule.

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

"Consistent with our commitment to the rule of law, we've already set in motion an assessment of the previous administration's questionable legal basis in our proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan".

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"Today's move ensures adequate and early opportunity for public comment from all stakeholders about next steps the agency might take to limit greenhouse gases from stationary sources, in a way that properly stays within the law, and the bounds of the authority provided to EPA by Congress", Pruitt said.

The EPA already decided, in its proposal to repeal Obama's rule, that any replacement standards would have to apply exclusively to the coal- or natural gas-fired power plants themselves, such as improving the efficiency of the generators.

The agency, which earlier this year began the formal process of repealing the regulation, said it will begin accepting public comments on a possible replacement.

Industry and business groups have advocated for Pruitt to replace the climate rule, arguing that it would give businesses more certainty, particularly if environmental groups or Democratic states sue the EPA to force a rule to limit greenhouse gases from power plants.

Doing nothing, specialists have argued, would have invited significant legal trouble, as courts have said the government has a duty to address carbon pollution under the federal Clean Air Act.