For Immediate Release - December 16, 2013

AG Coakley Urges EPA to Design Effective Program to Regulate Power Plant Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Comments Submitted with 12 Other States in an Effort to Curb Carbon Pollution Nationwide

BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley and a coalition of states today urged the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set strong, cost-effective and achievable targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants under the federal Clean Air Act.

“The EPA has authority under the Clean Air Act and a vital obligation to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants to protect public health and welfare,” AG Coakley said. “We remain committed to pressing for substantial steps to address climate change in ways that will benefit the economy, the environment, and the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

AG Coakley submitted comments today, along with New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, and the California Air Resources Board, in response to the EPA’s request for input in developing a proposed rule by June 2014 to regulate emissions from existing power plants, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation.

In 2006, AG Coakley joined a multi-state lawsuit seeking to force the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants under the Clean Air Act.  After the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, a schedule was set for the EPA to regulate emissions from new and existing power plants, which the EPA failed to meet.

In June 2013, President Obama directed the EPA to propose standards for new power plant emissions, which were completed in September 2013, and to propose and finalize emission guidelines for existing power plants by June 2014, and June 2015, respectively. The EPA must require states to submit implementation plans by June 30, 2016.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish an emission guideline, based on the best system of emission reduction identified by EPA, and give states flexibility to determine how they will achieve or exceed the carbon pollution limits for their existing power plants.

Several states, including Massachusetts — which has been a national leader in tackling climate change and promoting a clean energy economy — have taken measures cost effectively to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector, including establishing renewable portfolio standards to encourage greater reliance on clean energy, implementing energy efficiency programs, and participating in market-based programs, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI has been successful at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by more than 40 percent below 2005 levels and has produced a net benefit of $1.6 billion in the region, based on the first three-year compliance period.

For years, the AG’s Office has been a leader in pursuing federal regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, including leading a coalition of states, in coordination with numerous environmental groups, in the landmark Supreme Court case of Massachusetts v. EPA.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Melissa Hoffer, Chief, Carol Iancu, and Turner Smith of AG Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division.

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