FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 7, 2014) — A Kentucky energy official said two proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules to limit new and existing fossil fuel electric power generation are expected to be finalized by June 2015.
Kentucky Assistant Secretary for Climate Policy John Lyons told the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment Friday that one of the rules will affect greenhouse gas emissions from new sources while the other will affect emissions from existing plants. In the meantime, Lyons said the state is evaluating a June 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which he said “largely” upholds the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources.
The two proposed rulings are the latest in a line of federal EPA regulatory actions since 2007, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases qualify as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
Rep. Fitz Steele, D-Hazard, asked Lyons if he thinks the way the EPA has handled regulation of fossil fuel generation over the past several years is “right,” to which Lyons responded, “I don’t think what they’ve done has been beneficial to the state, no.”
Most of the discussion today was on the proposed rule for regulation of existing sources. That proposed rule, Lyons said, would establish “state specific” carbon dioxide intensities under EPA-issued guidelines that fit an allowable emission rate –based on a “fleet wide average” of all plant generation in that state—to each state’s economy and energy profile. Kentucky has been given the highest rate, he said.
“The EPA looked at coal-producing states and all (those states) got the highest rates, and we were by far the highest out of the bunch,” Lyons said. Kentucky’s rate, he explained, is an interim goal of 1844 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour for 2020 through 2029, and a final goal of 1763 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour for 2030—a rate that Lyons said should prevent any further shutdowns of power plants (and particularly coal-fired plants) in the commonwealth.
Speaking on the proposed regulation, Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, questioned its “supposed benefit.” He said added that the matter seems to have been deferred to the EPA, which Moore said “is not supposed to be the lead agency on these kinds of things.”
Committee Co-Chair Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, told Lyons that Kentucky’s reliance on coal power in light of the proposed rules could mean much higher industry electricity rates—not the “modest” increase mentioned in some media. “When you are talking about national rates as opposed to Kentucky, I think (it’s important) to understand what these rates mean to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, not nationally,” Gooch said.
Lyons agreed that the impact would be “negative,” adding that impact scenarios are studied regularly by his agency and will be included in comments provided by Kentucky to the EPA.