Press

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) today led a bipartisan group of 53 senators in calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to provide a 60-day extension for the public comment period on EPA’s proposed rule to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

The 53 senators expressed that because the proposal is incredibly complex and broad in scope and would impact electric generation, use, and costs throughout the country, an additional 60 days is needed to provide more time for all stakeholders to fully review it and offer comments.

In May, Fischer and Heitkamp led 47 Senators in sending a letter to EPA to request the agency grant at least 120 days for public comment on its new proposal on existing power plants. While the 120-day public comment period was granted, the senators heard immediately from a variety of parties in their states, including utilities, state regulators, regional generation and transmission organizations, and many more. These parties made it known that the rule is more difficult to analyze and assess than they had initially expected. Additionally, some of the issues posed by the new rule require discussions and collaboration with a variety of state, regional, and national officials to provide accurate and complete comments on the feasibility of the rule and options.

The senators state that the level of complexity of the proposal, volume of technical documents released, amount of coordination required, and magnitude of energy impacts of the rule warrant a 60-day extension of the public comment period.

The senators write, “This extension is critical to ensure that state regulatory agencies and other stakeholders have adequate time to fully analyze and comment on the proposal. It is also important to note that the challenge is not only one of commenting on the complexity and sweeping scope of the rule, but also providing an opportunity to digest more than 600 supporting documents released by EPA in support of this proposal.”

Fischer and Heitkamp were joined in their letter by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-WY), Mark Begich (D-AK), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Bob Corker (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John McCain (R-AZ), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), Pat Toomey (R-PA), David Vitter (R-LA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

Full text of the senators’ letter is below. A PDF copy is also available online HERE.

_____________________________________

The Honorable Gina McCarthy

Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. EPA Headquarters – William J. Clinton Building

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20460


Dear Administrator McCarthy,

We are writing to request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide a 60 day extension of the comment period for the “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources:  Electric Generating Units.”  While we appreciate EPA granting an initial 120 day comment period, the complexity and magnitude of the proposed rule necessitates an extension. This extension is critical to ensure that state regulatory agencies and other stakeholders have adequate time to fully analyze and comment on the proposal. It is also important to note that the challenge is not only one of commenting on the complexity and sweeping scope of the rule, but also providing an opportunity to digest more than 600 supporting documents released by EPA in support of this proposal.

The proposed rule regulates or affects the generation, transmission, and use of electricity in every corner of this country.  States and stakeholders must have time to fully analyze and assess the sweeping impacts that the proposal will have on our nation’s energy system, including dispatch of generation and end-use energy efficiency. In light of the broad energy impacts of the proposed rule, state environmental agencies must coordinate their comments across multiple state agencies and stakeholders, including public utility commissions, regional transmission organizations, and transmission and reliability experts, just to name a few.   The proposed rule requires a thorough evaluation of intra- and inter-state, regional, and in some cases international energy generation and transmission so that states and utilities can provide the most detailed assessments on how to meet the targets while maintaining reliability in the grid.   This level of coordination to comment on an EPA rule is unprecedented, extraordinary, and extremely time consuming.

It is also important to note that the proposed rule imposes a heavy burden on the states during the rulemaking process.  If the states want to adjust their statewide emission rate target assigned to them by EPA, they must provide their supporting documentation for the adjustment during the comment period.  The EPA proposal provides no mechanism for adjusting the state emission rate targets once they are adopted based on the four building blocks.  So the states need enough time to digest the rule, fully understand it, and then collect the data and justification on why their specific target may need to be adjusted, and why the assumptions of the building blocks may not apply to their states.  This cannot be adequately accomplished in only 120 days.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.