Clean coal group slams budget proposal for $4bn Clean Power Plan fund

The Obama Administration announced Feb. 2 a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fiscal year 2016 budget that includes $4bn to encourage states to go beyond the basic mandates of the proposed Clean Power Plan.

That plan, issued in draft form last June by EPA, would mandate 30% reductions in CO2 emissions from existing power plants to 2030.

“This budget sends a strong signal that the President is fully committed to making the investments needed to meet our mission to protect public health and the environment. The funding allows us to further our important work to combat the impacts of climate change and deliver on the President’s Climate Action Plan while improving air quality, protecting our water, executing rigorous scientific research and ensuring the public safety from toxic chemicals,” said Stan Meiburg, EPA Acting Deputy Administrator.

The FY 2016 budget proposal, which will face sharp criticism in a House and Senate that now both have GOP majorities, prioritizes actions to reduce the impacts of climate change, one of the most significant challenges for this and future generations, and supports the President’s Climate Action Plan. EPA’s FY 2016 Budget includes $239m for efforts to cut carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases through commonsense standards, guidelines, and voluntary programs.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which establishes carbon pollution reduction standards for existing power plants, is a top priority for the EPA and will help spur innovation and economic growth while creating a clean energy economy. Finalizing and implementing these regulations will involve innovative approaches and flexibility for achieving solutions, as well as extensive and unprecedented work with states, tribes, and territories, which is why this budget includes additional funding for states. In addition to EPA’s discretionary budget, President Obama also proposes a $4bn Clean Power State Incentive Fund, a mandatory account to be administered by the EPA that supports state efforts to go above and beyond their carbon pollution reduction goals in the power sector.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity on Feb. 2 immediately condemned this budget for prioritizing Obama’s “politicized environmental policies” at the expense of American families and businesses. The $4bn fund is just a tiny fraction of the more than $366bn in compliance costs associated with the plan, the coalition said. States can qualify for a portion of the $4bn by reaching the targets stipulated by EPA in an accelerated manner or by exceeding EPA’s targets. A number of state governors have already cried foul at the cost and electric power reliability impacts of the Clean Power Plan, the coalition added.

“The president is veiling bad policy behind claims of helping low- and middle-income Americans who will most certainly foot the bill for his activist climate change agenda. Facing mounting criticism over his Clean Power Plan’s lack of flexibility and jaw-dropping compliance costs, President Obama has resorted to bribing states with taxpayer money to implement a rule many are already working fervently to overturn,” said Laura Sheehan, senior vice president for communications at ACCCE. “Worse yet, this $4 billion bribe will do nothing to offset the half-trillion dollars Americans will have to pay out of their own pocket to use less electricity.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.