After receiving numerous requests to extend the comment period on the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) proposal for existing sources,(1) Acting Office of Air and Radiation Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe recently announced a 45-day extension. The comment period on the proposed rule, which would regulate carbon dioxide emissions for existing fossil fuel-fired power plants, was extended from October 16 until December 1. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has indicated that despite the change to the comment period, it still intends to finalise the rule by June 2015. The EPA did not extend the October 16 comment deadline for its NSPS proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from modified and reconstructed fossil fuel-fired power plants.

Meanwhile, with regard to the NSPS, Congress continues its oversight of the EPA's efforts to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. The House Energy and Power Sub-committee held a hearing that included testimony from state officials who will take the lead in implementing the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan. Under the EPA's proposal, each state has been given a unique target to achieve emission reductions based on a combination of four 'building blocks':

  • heat rate improvements averaging 6%for coal-fired power plants;
  • re-dispatch of combined cycle natural gas plants of up to 70%;
  • avoided retirement of nuclear energy;
  • increased use of renewable energy; and
  • increased demand-side energy efficiency.

States can use these or other approaches to meet the standard. State regulators from Texas, Montana, Arizona and Indiana have argued that the proposal is too stringent and urged for more time to allow for a closer assessment of the proposal's economic and reliability implications. Representatives from Maryland and Washington have indicated that the basic structure of the proposal is sound and public comment deadline extension was synonymous with an unnecessary delay.

Rick Boucher or Catherine Karen

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