EPA has finally released its proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan, dubbed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule. More affordable than clean, I’d say.
What’s really telling is that EPA’s own analysis shows that the CPP would have delivered significantly more benefits than ACE. And that goes for both direct benefits in GHG emissions reductions and indirect benefits related to reductions in traditional criteria pollutants.
First, with respect to GHG emissions, the ACE Rule Fact Sheet states that it will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 million short tons in 2025, yielding $1.6 billion “in monetized domestic climate benefits.” This statement is interesting for at least two reasons. First, it acknowledges that reducing CO2 emissions results in “monetized domestic climate benefits.” I guess climate change isn’t a hoax, after all. Second, ACE will yield less than 1/10 the CO2 reductions that the CPP would have done, making that $1.6 billion seem fairly paltry.
Second, the Regulatory Impact Analysis prepared for the proposed rule makes clear that lost indirect benefits resulting from replacing the CPP with ACE are quite substantial. Substantial, as in hundreds of additional premature deaths each year due to higher particulate emissions rates in the ACE.
I’ve always been sympathetic to the argument that the CPP was legally vulnerable in attempting to regulate outside the fence line. However, shouldn’t that be a moot point? If the Clean Power Plan would deliver significantly more “monetized domestic climate benefits” than ACE and if it would deliver substantial indirect public health benefits – and there seems little doubt it would do both – then shouldn’t EPA be figuring out a way to get the authority it needs to implement it?
If EPA were an agency that actually cared about it mission to protect the public health from environmental risks, then the debate would be over how to give it the authority it needs to do its job; EPA would not be trumpeting that is doing less to protect the public health.