Politics trumped common sense again today as the North Carolina Senate passed legislation that purports to prevent the state from complying with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan — even though the state is well-positioned to do so. Click here to read attorney and veteran regulator Robin Smith’s explanation as to why this action simply makes no sense.
Meanwhile, the good people at the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club responded:
Senate Again Makes Effort to Undermine Clean Power Plan
RALEIGH – This afternoon, the NC Senate gave approval to a revised version of H 571, renamed “An Act to Require State Agencies, Boards and Commissions to Implement a Clean Power Plan Consistent with the Federal Clean Air Act”. The measure does the opposite of what the title suggests and we question that it is in the best interest of the state.
After the Senate’s vote this afternoon, Molly Diggins, state director of the NC Sierra Club issued the following statement:
“Today’s vote is a bad faith circumvention of the historic Clean Power Plan. The Senate would require DENR to create a state plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that is designed to fail in order to set up a legal confrontation with EPA.”
“It is bad faith to shut the public, the private sector and even the utilities out of the process of developing the state plan. Without that input, the state cannot develop a plan that keeps the energy system reliable and energy costs reasonable. We should not –by law– prevent the state from claiming credit for carbon reductions that the state will see from renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other measures to achieve EPA’s goals.”
“The EPA is giving states unprecedented flexibility in designing an approach to comply with the rule that works best for them. The Senate’s actions would needlessly and without explanation or justification limit the state to just one option.”
“North Carolina has the chance to again be a leader in the Southeast – just as we were when we passed the Clean Smokestacks Act in 2002 and the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard in 2007. But it appears that Senate leaders and the McCrory administration would rather use the Clean Power Plan as a political football than as a practical way to improve our state’s air quality, economy, and the health of all our communities.”
More information about H 571 and the Senate’s actions:
The Senate’s vote comes just two days after the US EPA announced the final rule known as the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan is the first ever federal effort to limit carbon emissions from coal fired power plants. The plan allows states flexibility to formulate their own path to comply with the targets set by the EPA.
Although administration officials, including DENR Secretary van der Vaart, have stated publicly that North Carolina will not have any trouble meeting the carbon reduction goals of the EPA rule, both the Secretary and the Senate indicated their desire to challenge the rule in court.
As passed by the Senate, H 571 directs the Secretary of DENR to submit a compliance plan with a pre-determined outcome, making input from the public, the electric utilities, and the state’s businesses and industries moot. Specifically, the measure directs the Secretary of DENR to submit a compliance plan based on just one of the many tools EPA would allow the state to use to meet carbon reductions goals. The Senate measure makes it illegal for the Secretary to submit a carbon reduction plan that claims credit for reductions the state will realize based on the state’s thriving clean energy sector and increased energy efficiency. The House version of the bill required DENR to run a broad stakeholder process to seek input on how to create the best state plan. The Senate measure undermines any public input on development of the plan and may also run contrary to the EPA rule’s specific requirements for stakeholder outreach. While the Secretary is allowed to consult, the outcome is predetermined. [Note: the DENR Secretary recently rejected a written request from 57 local elected officials for a stakeholder process. The letter from local elected officials to Governor McCrory can be found by clicking here: http://bit.ly/1KgMRMl Sec. Van der Vaart’s response can be found by clicking here: http://bit.ly/1HbaLRS]
The measure, as passed by the Senate, also:
• Requires DENR to reject the flexibility EPA has given states in developing a state plan and, instead, submit a plan based on what is almost certainly the most expensive option for consumer. According to the North Carolina Utilities Commission, our state has the most efficient coal fleet in the nation. Requiring increased efficiency from our existing coal plants will be the most expensive path for the consumer.
• Prohibits a fiscal note on DENR’s proposal to comply with the Clean Power Plan, leaving lawmakers and the public in the dark as to the cost of the state’s proposal.
• Requires DENR to challenge the final EPA rule in court. It would appear that the Governor would have no say in that decision.