New EPA head says agency has climate regulations underway. Unless congress passes legislation it will be up to EPA to create new regulation

April 2, 2021

Michael S. Regan, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, confirmed on March 15th that the agency is preparing new regulations on the electricity sector in an effort to meet President Biden’s aggressive climate change goals according to a March 15th New York Times report.

Michael S. Regan
EPA Administrator

Mr. Regan said his immediate priorities for the E.P.A. are “rebuilding the morale” at the agency, restoring the role of science — and scientists — in developing air and water rules, and ensuring new environmental policies do not further hurt communities already disproportionately affected by toxic sites.

He was not specific on the precise new policies E.P.A. will undertake to rein in planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, or when they will be made public. But, Mr. Regan said, the agency will “absolutely” develop new rules for power plants and automobiles and that E.P.A. staff is currently working on those plans.

Unless Congress passes legislation — an unlikely scenario — it will be up to the E.P.A. to create new regulations for both sectors. The Obama administration sought to reshape the electric power sector by pushing utilities away from coal and toward electricity generated by natural gas, solar, wind and other lower or no-carbon sources. That rule, the Clean Power Plan, was halted by the Supreme Court.

But the Trump administration’s efforts ran into trouble as well. The Clean Power Plan replacement — a far weaker rule that only asked utilities to make modest efficiency modifications at individual power plants — was struck down entirely by a federal court earlier this year.

That decision, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, affirmed that the E.P.A. has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide from the power sector. Mr. Regan said he intends to take advantage of that.

“We’re starting with a clean slate but we’re not starting from scratch,” he said. In addition, Mr. Regan noted, market forces have changed. Coal-burning power plants already are retiring at a rapid pace, and according to the International Energy Agency.

What this means to you
Mr. Regan said his immediate priorities for the E.P.A. are “rebuilding the morale” at the agency, restoring the role of science — and scientists — in developing air and water rules. A decision, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, affirmed that the E.P.A. has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide from the power sector. Mr. Regan said he intends to take advantage of that.

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