Many in business back EPA, but the new Congress has yet to weigh in.
Ken Silverstein is Editor-at-Large for Public Utilities Fortnightly. Contact him at email@example.com.
It's a crash that would be heard around the world, unless one side blinks. At this point, though, it appears that nothing will be done to avert Washington's current collision course that is set to begin when the new Congress takes its oath in early January 2015.
No set of issues are more combustible than those linked to the energy sector, especially clean air and water, and carbon reductions. In fact, the comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan that would require a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 from a 2005 baseline just ended. And the acrimony is just as one would expect, with divisions largely drawn along party lines. Some 1.6 million comments have been received.
That said, key businesses that include utilities have endorsed EPA's Clean Power Plan, which is expected to be finalized in June 2015. The underlying premise of the current proposal is that the states would have lots of flexibility when it comes to complying, which could range from allowing industry to trade carbon credits across state lines to enacting energy efficiency programs to replace coal with generation fired by natural gas. The states have until 2020 to formalize a blueprint.