In the end, the Clean Power Plan will go away, attorney says

Bracewell attorney Jeff Holmstead stressed again Nov. 16 that he expects the 2017 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the administration of Republican Donald Trump will move promptly to undo the Clean Power Plan.

Holmstead, who now represents power industry clients, headed EPA’s air and radiation office under the George W. Bush administration. He addressed the TransForum East gathering in Washington, D.C. The conference is organized by PennWell’s TransmissionHub.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the full D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in September on the ambitious Obama administration plan to have states reduce power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) by 32% by 2030.

“The world has changed significantly,” since September, Holmstead said. There was an election with a surprise result: California voters approved the recreational use of marijuana, the lawyer said – drawing laughs from the crowd.

The surprise victory by Trump almost certainly means that the Clean Power Plan, in current form at least, will be killed within 12-to-18 months after the new administration takes over, Holmstead said.

Even if the plan does survive the legal challenge at the D.C. Circuit, the Trump administration would not defend the rule from state and industry challenges before the U.S. Supreme Court, Holmstead said.

There would be a public comment process to withdraw the CO2 rule, but in the end the Trump EPA will not stick with the CPP, Holmstead said.

Any CO2 reduction rule that comes out of the Trump administration is apt to be much less sweeping, Holmstead said. For example, the Trump EPA could demand certain efficiency improvements at existing coal plants, which would have an incremental reduction of CO2.

In addition, Holmstead also expects a Trump EPA to reject the Obama administration rule proposal to mandate carbon capture and storage (CCS) for new coal plants.  


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at