Overnight Energy: EPA to consider changes to coal pollution rule | California moves toward 100 percent clean energy | Watchdog to release report on Pruitt security

Overnight Energy: EPA to consider changes to coal pollution rule | California moves toward 100 percent clean energy | Watchdog to release report on Pruitt security
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EPA TO RECONSIDER COAL POLLUTION RULE: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Wednesday that it is reconsidering a 2011 air pollution rule that has been blamed for numerous coal-fired power plant closures.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) set new limits for emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium, which the coal industry and Republicans have said was central to former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states Ford taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing MORE's "War on Coal."

Now the Trump administration is eyeing changes to the standards, an EPA spokeswoman said.

Officials are also considering changes to a 2016 retroactive declaration by the EPA that the 2011 rule was "appropriate and necessary."

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"One of a number of issues EPA is assessing in the context of the appropriate and necessary analysis is striking the right balance when accounting for co-benefits," EPA spokeswoman Molly Block said Wednesday. Block was referring to benefits in a regulation's cost-benefit analysis that come from reducing pollutants that are not targeted in the rule itself.

"EPA knows these issues are of importance to the regulated community and the public at large and is committed to a thoughtful and transparent regulatory process in addressing them."

 

Why it matters: The MATS rule was one of Obama's most costly and controversial. The administration put its cost at about $9 billion, but put its benefits at around 10 times that.

It was central to charges of a "War on Coal" by Obama, and caused dozens of power plants to close.

It also has helped lead to dramatic reductions in not just in the pollutants targeted in the rule, but other pollutants as well, such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.

Or does it matter?: Power plants had to comply with the rule by 2016, so they either shut down or upgraded their systems to clean their emissions by then. And utilities have repeatedly said that they have little intention of reversing the actions that they took.

 

We've got the full story here.

 

Happy Wednesday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com, and Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama, @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

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CALIFORNIA LAWMAKERS PASS 100 PERCENT CLEAN ENERGY BILL: California lawmakers have adopted a plan for the state to transition to an energy grid devoid of electricity generated from fossil fuels by 2045.

The state assembly passed the bill on Tuesday and it now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) signature. If enacted, it would put California on track to become the first state to adopt a power grid consisting of 100 percent renewable energy.

If signed by Brown, the move will also make California the world's largest economy to commit to relying completely on renewable energy generated from solar, wind and water. California is the world's fifth largest economy.

The bill additionally increases the state's clean energy goals from 50 percent by 2030 to 60 percent by 2030.

Brown has 30 days to sign the bill.

The vote this week is in tandem with a number of other clean energy pushes in the state, which houses a number of renewable energy companies.

Read more.

 

WATCHDOG REPORT ON PRUITT'S SECURITY COMING SOON: The EPA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) next week will release its audit of former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE's security detail.

As you'll recall, Pruitt's detail had a number of controversial practices, including: accompanying him on personal trips home to Oklahoma, to the Rose Bowl game and elsewhere; following him 24 hours a day and spending taxpayer money on expenses like a new SUV lease.

The OIG previously said it would look into at least some of those matters, like the personal trips and the costs of the detail, which exceeded $3.5 million on salaries and travel costs alone.

The security practices were among the high-profile scandals that led Pruitt to resign in July.

The report will come out Sept. 4, along with a podcast, the office said Wednesday.

 

THE HILL EVENT:

Join us Thursday, Sept. 6, for "Partnerships & Progress: Driving Climate Solutions," featuring Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickSinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests Congress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms MORE (R-Pa.) and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseKavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week Dem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh MORE (D-R.I.). Editor in Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with the headliners to discuss how the public and private sectors can balance environmental progress with healthy economic growth. RSVP Here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

The Forest Service approved the controversial Rock Creek copper and silver mine in Montana, Montana Public Radio reports.

Drillers in Texas flare about $1 million worth of natural gas a day, with the blessing of regulators, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The city assembly of Anchorage, Alaska, approved a ban on single-use plastic bags, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Bonner Cohen of the National Center for Public Policy Research says Trump's carbon dioxide rule for coal-fired power plants would open the door to "innovative technologies" to reduce emissions.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories ...

- NASA administrator says he always thought humans caused climate change

- Detroit schools shut off drinking water after tests show elevated lead, copper

- Trump says government 'did a fantastic job' with Puerto Rico hurricane response

- EPA to reconsider 2011 power plant pollution rule

- California lawmakers set goal of 100 percent renewable energy use by 2045

- Hundreds of endangered sea turtles killed by illegal abandoned fishing net