National Mining Association Welcomes Legal, Effective Proposed Power Plan Rule

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule is a “welcome return to the rule of law and to the proper balance between state and federal authority under the Constitution and the Clean Air Act (CAA),” the National Mining Association (NMA) said in comments recently filed with the EPA. EPA proposed ACE to replace the prior administration’s unlawful Clean Power Plan (CPP).

“The proposed ACE rule is a welcome return to federal restraint after years of punitive overreach,” said Hal Quinn, NMA president and CEO. “This replacement rule makes it clear that we can advance the nation’s environmental protections while preserving the rightful authority of the states to manage their own unique energy infrastructure and electric grids. Reducing emissions need not come with a crushing price tag nor the threat of reduced grid reliability and resiliency. The previous administration’s policy posed a direct threat to the reliable, affordable power that is the foundation of our economy.”

In comments that strongly endorse the ACE proposal, NMA contrasts the proposal with its illegal and unworkable predecessor, an agenda-driven regulation intended to shutter coal plants and devoid of a basis in Congressionally-enacted law. Among the strengths of the ACE proposal over its predecessor are: According to the NMA, section 111 of the CAA limits systems of emission reduction to those that can be implemented at the source. Such an approach is consistent with more than 40 years of pre-CPP EPA precedent, which allows EPA to regulate individual sources, not the entire electric grid. The ACE proposal identifies heat rate improvements (HRI) as the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for coal-fired power plants because HRI technologies are the only demonstrated means of reducing emissions that can be applied in a cost-effective manner at individual plants.

The CAA created a system of shared authority by EPA and the states, with states playing a vital role under CAA 111(d). The ACE rule clarifies that EPA’s role is to determine a nationally applicable BSER while the states determine standards and how to implement them. At its core, the ACE rule respects that each state is different and will require a unique approach to emissions reduction.

Additionally, the ACE rule recognizes the importance of New Source Review (NSR) reform by removing barriers to efficiency improvements at coal plants. The complexities of current NSR law have dis-incentivized upgrades that would improve safety, increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions of regulated air pollutants. The ACE proposal to adopt an hourly emission rate test is a necessary step forward.

Finally, the ACE rule is expected to cut emissions by more than a third below 2005 levels by 2030 – nearly as much as CPP – while also reducing the compliance burden by up to $400 million annually when compared to CPP.

“The proposed ACE rule is a welcome return to federal restraint after years of punitive overreach,” said Hal Quinn, NMA president and CEO. “This replacement rule makes it clear that we can advance the nation’s environmental protections while preserving the rightful authority of the states to manage their own unique energy infrastructure and electric grids. Reducing emissions need not come with a crushing price tag nor the threat of reduced grid reliability and resiliency. The previous administration’s policy posed a direct threat to the reliable, affordable power that is the foundation of our economy.”

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