May 22, 2023 | E&E News | 1 minute read

Bracewell’s Jeff Holmstead told E&E News that it was apparent the EPA hurried to include existing gas power plants in its recently announced climate rule.

“You could tell right away that it had been added at the last minute,” said Holmstead.

The draft carbon regulations released this month omitted the kind of detailed analysis for current gas facilities that ordinarily buttress major rules, contrasting sharply with other sections of the rule that offered hundreds of pages of analysis for coal plants and future gas facilities.

The lack of detail about current gas plants pulls the curtain back on how the political process influenced the regulation. But it won’t necessarily undermine the rule in the eyes of the court system, which promises to play a heightened role as opponents challenge the rule. For one thing, EPA is expected to provide fuller analysis in next year’s final version of the rule. For another, lack of economics modeling is hardly its only challenge.

“I don’t think that’s their biggest legal problem,” Holmstead said.

Holmstead pointed to the rule’s standard that would require many of the nation’s power plants to install carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS, systems, if they don’t announce plans to retire.

“I just think the biggest legal problem they have is there is not a commercial-scale gas plant anywhere in the world that uses CCS,” added Holmstead.