EPA proposes climate rule incentives despite court hold

EPA proposes climate rule incentives despite court hold
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The Obama administration is moving ahead with an incentive program for its contentious climate change rule, despite the Supreme Court’s action halting the regulation.

Under the program, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would give states compliance credits for renewable energy and efficiency projects that are undertaken earlier than the Clean Power Plan would require them.

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It’s meant to be a carrot to the stick of the Clean Power Plan and to try to get some significant deployment of renewables and efficiency projects before the regulation kicks in in 2022.

“Taking these steps will help cut carbon pollution by encouraging investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, which will help give our kids and grandkids a healthier and safer future,” Janet McCabe, head of the EPA’s air pollution office, said in a Thursday statement.

The basic details of the incentive program were outlined when the climate rule was made final last August, but Thursday’s announcement formally proposes more details about it.

The climate rule itself, which seeks a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon emissions, is under a judicial stay from the Supreme Court’s February 2016 order.

But the EPA believes that actions like the incentive program and helping states voluntarily comply with the regulation are permissible under the court stay — an opinion Republicans and the rule’s opponents disagree with.

“EPA is attempting to downplay the significance of the stay and argue against clear legal precedence as a last-ditch effort to scare states into spending scarce resources complying with a rule that could very well be overturned,” Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Shanahan: 'No concerns' about FBI background check for nomination MORE (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said at a hearing last week about the issue.

Following formal publication of the Thursday proposal in the Federal Register, the EPA will take comments from the public for 60 days before considering them and making the program final.