The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a replacement rule on August 21 for the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. The replacement rule is called the Affordable Clean Energy rule.
Jason Bohrer, president and CEO of the Lignite Energy Council, noted that the replacement rule returns the EPA to a lawful framework for regulation of power plant emissions.
“The Clean Air Act created a system of shared authority by EPA and the states, and this proposal appropriately reflects relationship,” Bohrer said. “Under ACE, states will again have primacy over regulating CO2 from power plants. The federal one-size-fits-all model, which characterized the Clean Power Plan, will be replaced by 50 state-specific plans. This will be good for North Dakota’s economy and our industry while reducing emissions.”
Bohrer noted that the Clean Power Plan is viewed by many as an illegal attempt to impose a political agenda on the country’s power system, and favored natural gas and wind generation over coal-based generation sources. The CPP would have had dire consequences for North Dakota’s lignite industry. Studies showed that that about half of the state’s power plants would have been retired under the draconian regulation that called for a 45 percent reduction in CO2 by 2030.
This premature retirements would have hurt ratepayers and increased the vulnerability of the electric grid to supply outages. Rates would have increased as utilities were saddled with stranded assets while incurring new expenditures for replacement generation facilities. The grid would have suffered as less reliable sources were added to replace the baseload, coal-based generation.
The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the Clean Power Plan from taking effect because it was believed that the CPP was not legal and would not be upheld in the court system.
Bohrer noted that the Affordable Clean Energy rule can accomplish the same goals as the CPP but do it in a more orderly business fashion instead of a federal top-down initiative.
The Lignite Energy Council is a regional trade association representing North Dakota lignite producers, electric utilities and approximately 300 businesses providing goods and services to the mines and plants. The lignite industry generates approximately $3.5 billion in gross business volume within the state.