January 24, 2022 | E&E News | 1 minute read

With the Environmental Protection Agency preparing to offer a sector-wide road map of the greenhouse gas, conventional air pollutant and water rules it plans to promulgate, Bracewell’s Jeff Holmstead discusses with E&E News the value in such a road map and schedule for all of the rules that could apply to the power sector in the coming years.

“From a policy perspective you want to harmonize those,” Holmstead said. “If what they’re doing is saying, ‘You know, here are the regulations that we are authorized to do, and here’s our schedule for putting them out,’ I think that at least lets companies look at their existing fleets and decide whether there may be some plants that won’t be economic.”

But Holmstead said the agency would have to be careful about how it framed the rules’ contribution to President Biden’s climate agenda, either in the rules’ documents or in EPA officials’ public comments. Leaning on the greenhouse gas benefits of rules that don’t explicitly target greenhouse gas emissions could make those rules vulnerable to legal challenge, he said.

“If these happened to get CO2 reduction benefits, I think that’s one thing,” said Holmstead. “If they turn this into a big program for reducing CO2 emissions, I think they’ll run into problems with a court.”

The possible components of the EPA comprehensive strategy all have the potential to change the economics of running and operating coal-fired power plants in such a way as to encourage early retirements.

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