EPA stops work on climate rule compliance program

EPA stops work on climate rule compliance program
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stopped work Monday on writing an optional program that states could use to comply with the climate change rule for power plants.

Janet McCabe, the EPA’s top air regulator, announced the decision in a blog post, along with the draft, incomplete compliance plans and related documents.

EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said the agency withdrew the rule so that it could release the drafts, which could help helpful to states looking to cut their emissions.

Usually, the documents would not be public until the rules are made final, but their future is uncertain under President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFranken: Trump Jr., Manafort need to testify under oath Trump lawyer: Pardons are not being discussed Special counsel investigators pushing Manafort for cooperation: report MORE, who will take office in just over a month.

Trump has pledged to repeal the underlying Clean Power Plan, making the model rules moot.

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“The proposed model rules highlighted straightforward pathways to adopting a trading system, making it easy for states and power plants to use emissions trading to reduce carbon pollution,” McCabe wrote.

“We believe that the work we have done so far may be useful at this time to the states, stakeholders and members of the public who are considering or are already implementing policies and programs that would cut carbon pollution from the power sector.”

The Clean Power Plan, which is on hold due to a Supreme Court order that halted it during litigation, assigns each state an individual greenhouse gas reduction level for its private sector.

The model rules outline basic cap-and-trade systems for power plants that states could set up to comply. But states would not be mandated to use the cap-and-trade systems and would be free to find other ways to comply.

Congressional Republicans, state attorneys general challenging the rule and other opponents had argued that the EPA was violating the Supreme Court’s stay on the Clean Power Plan by working on related programs like the model rules.

But liberal states planning to comply with the rule asked the EPA to keep working on the programs.

The Obama administration is still fighting to defend the Clean Power Plan in court. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments for the challenge in September and could issue a decision even if Trump repeals the regulation. 

--This report was updated at 2:29 p.m.