EPA advances state incentives despite hold on climate rule

EPA advances state incentives despite hold on climate rule
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The Obama administration is moving forward with a state incentive program related to its contentious climate change rule, even though the regulation itself is on hold.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday sent a proposal with details of the program to the White House Office of Management and Budget for its review, the final step before the program can be formally proposed to the public.

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The Clean Energy Incentive Program is designed as the carrot to the Clean Power Plan’s stick. The EPA is planning to give states credit for establishing certain renewable energy or energy-efficiency projects before the Clean Power Plan would take effect and require changes to reduce power companies’ greenhouse gas emissions.

“Many states and tribes have indicated that they plan to move forward voluntarily to work to cut carbon pollution from power plants and have asked the agency to continue providing support and developing tools that may support those efforts, including the [incentive program],” the EPA said in a statement Wednesday.

The agency said its decision to move forward with the voluntary incentives is completely in line with the Supreme Court’s February action to stop implementation of the Clean Power Plan while the litigation process proceeds, even though some details of the incentive program were laid out last year.

“The proposal is informed by an extensive public outreach process that began late last year and has included engagement with hundreds of interested stakeholders,” it said.

The EPA would give states participating in the program credits for eligible renewable or efficiency projects that could later be used to cancel out greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel plants under the Clean Power Plan.

The Office of Management and Budget usually takes less than 60 days to review proposals, but it could take longer if it chooses. After that office approves the proposal, the EPA plans to put it out for public comment.