Energy Law Fellow Discusses State Compliance with EPA GHG Rule

Ari Peskoe, Energy Law Fellow at the Environmental Policy Initiative, presented at Harvard’s Kennedy School about how existing state laws could be used to comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Under that rule, which is expected to be finalized in the summer of 2015, EPA will set carbon dioxide emission rates for each state’s fleet of power plants, and states will submit plans to EPA detailing how they will comply. Those plans must be enforceable under state law.

In his presentation, Ari examined laws in two states, Pennsylvania and Florida, as case studies. He observed that existing laws in Pennsylvania may provide state environmental regulators with authority to cap emissions from power plants. The Commonwealth also has existing renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, although the underlying laws could be amended to make them more helpful for Clean Power Plan compliance. Ari then discussed legal authorities that Florida regulators have under existing law. Recent decisions by the state utility commission demonstrate that they are not currently using these authorities to set strong renewable energy or energy efficiency goals.

His conclusion is that states are differently positioned to comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan. In many states, such as Pennsylvania, existing laws provide a strong starting point for a state compliance plan. Regulators in other states, such as Florida, will either need to reexamine their authority under existing law to achieve more with existing authorities or will need to look to the state legislature to pass new legislation that can form the basis of a compliance plan.

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