The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) will hold public hearings on the proposed Clean Power Plan in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC this week.  The Clean Power Plan is EPA's proposed rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired power plants and other stationary sources in a purported effort to fight climate change through cutting energy waste and leveraging clean energy resources.  EPA expects comments from about 1,600 registered speakers.  Registration is not required to attend and listen to the testimony at the hearings.  EPA is also accepting comments on-line or by email, fax, or mail.     

The proposed Clean Power Plan seeks to reduce gas emissions by 30 percent over the next several decades.  According to the EPA, the Rule’s implementation will lead to over $50 billion in climate and health benefits.  The EPA also expects the rule to prevent from 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths. The EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis predicted that in 2030, 30% of U.S. electricity would come from coal, 10% less than today.    

States will have a 10 to 15 year window to achieve the reductions.  The EPA characterizes the larger scheme as a “consistent national framework” that allows each state to adopt reductions tailored for their “unique mix of emissions and power sources.”  The proposed rule sets a deadline of June 30, 2016 for states to submit implementation plans and the EPA will allow one-year extensions for individual state plans and two-year extensions for multi-state plans.  Following this deadline, states will have a 10–year period, from 2020 to 2029, to meet an interim reduction goal and states will then have to meet a final reduction goal beginning in 2030 and beyond.  

There is concern that the Rule will adversely affect the coal industry, and this concern is expected to translate into heavy litigation.  In fact, Murray Energy Corporation is already challenging the proposed rule and has petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for an extraordinary writ preventing the EPA from even enacting the rule.  Additionally, a group of state attorneys general filed a brief in support of Murray Energy’s request.  The states include Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.