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Mark Brnovich Letter on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Posted: September 16, 2014 at 8:19 am   /   by

September 10, 2014

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602  

Comments on EPA’s Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources; Electric Utility Generating Units; Proposed Rule

(Informally referenced as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan)

Dear Administrator McCarthy & Acting Assistant Administrator McCabe:
I write out of grave concern that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to enact new regulations that would greatly hamper this nation’s ability to generate the affordable, reliable energy we need to power our economy.  These new rules governing carbon emissions from power plants would be particularly damaging for my home – the State of Arizona – as I will detail in a moment.

First, as a husband and father, I support clean air and recognize the importance of the environment to public health and families like mine.  But I oppose heavy-handed regulatory efforts such as the EPA Clean Power Plan, which would reap minimal air quality benefits while erecting a cumbersome new regulatory scheme and imposing massive additional costs upon consumers and utilities.  The EPA itself estimates these regulations would drive up electricity rates nationwide, and annual compliance costs are expected to run into the billions of dollars.  Consumers, of course, would bear the brunt of these costs – killing jobs and creating a further drag on the economy at a time when our country and my state can least afford it.

With these rules, the EPA has established a goal of cutting CO2 emissions from power plants by 30 percent nationally by 2030. For Arizona, the mandate would mean a 52 percent emissions decline. Arizona would be required to achieve more than three-quarters of its reduction by 2020; thereby forcing Arizona to essentially shift entirely from coal-fired to natural gas-fired power plants within the next five years.  This is impossible since Arizona doesn’t have the infrastructure in place. All of this is complicated by Arizona’s status as a growth state. Amid rising demand, and given the obvious public-health implications of maintaining safe, reliable power for residents of a state prone to both extreme heat and cold, it is neither feasible nor realistic to achieve these drastic emissions reductions.

As an attorney and the Republican nominee for Arizona Attorney General, I believe the EPA has exceeded its authority with these proposed regulations.  Under the Clean Air Act, Congress purposefully vested power in the states to design pollution-reduction plans and establish performance standards.  The EPA may require states to submit plans with standards, and may even prescribe procedures to be followed. But the EPA cannot dictate these requirements from afar and is barred from mandating that states enact emissions standards so stringent they force the phase-out of still-viable power plants.

That, however, is exactly what would happen if these unreasonable EPA regulations come to pass.  Arizona consumers receive a considerable share of their power via coal-fired power plants, in which our utilities have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new technology to make these facilities as clean as possible.  Adoption of these EPA rules would threaten the reliability of our power supply and drive up electricity costs for Arizona families and businesses.

It’s worth noting that, free of federal interference, Arizona has made great strides at reducing pollution and improving energy efficiency.  Our state is one of the nation’s leaders in the development and use of solar power; our large utilities are on-track to achieve a 22 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020; and Arizona utilities are mandated to produce at least 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.

The Clean Air Act was intended to be a model of cooperative federalism in which states and their locally elected officials take the lead in enacting state-specific regulations and standards.  Flexibility should be a hallmark.  Instead, these proposed EPA rules are an affront to the law and further illustration of the Obama Administration’s contempt for its co-equal branch of government – Congress – and disdain for the very states from which the federal government derives its power.

Arizona cannot stand idly by in the face of regulatory aggression that threatens the affordable, secure power so critical to a healthy economy.  Once elected Attorney General of Arizona, I pledge to join states in challenging the legality of these federal regulations, if they are not promptly withdrawn, or significantly revised to reflect the concerns of stakeholders.



Mark Brnovich

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Mark Brnovich Letter on EPA's Clean Power Plan