WVU Law's Energy Center and Downstream Strategies release report on strategies to comply with EPA Clean Power Plan

MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—The Center for Energy and Sustainable Development at the West Virginia University College of Law announced today its report on strategies that would allow West Virginia to meet the requirements of the proposed Clean Power Plan rule issued last summer by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Teaming up with Downstream Strategies, a Morgantown-based environmental consulting firm, the Center issued the report titled “The Clean Power Plan and West Virginia: Compliance Options and New Economic Opportunities” which includes strategies to comply with the EPA’s rule to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. 

James Van Nostrand, director of the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, emphasized that the goal of conducting the analyses and issuing the report is to provide West Virginia lawmakers and regulators an additional resource for evaluating potential compliance measures and pathways that the state could expand upon with future analyses.

“West Virginia is a major electricity exporting state and the compliance strategies that we adopt, and equally important, the strategies adopted by the surrounding states, will affect our state and the region as a whole,” said Van Nostrand. “It is essential that West Virginia be involved in regional discussions around Clean Power Plan compliance, and we hope that this report will provide an additional resource for air and energy regulators in our state as they engage in these discussions.”

The Clean Power Plan was originally proposed in June 2014 and the final rule is expected to be released later this summer. It identifies a series of pollution reduction measures to lower carbon dioxide emission from the U.S. power sector. It intends to cut emission by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. For West Virginia, that means reducing emission rates by 21 percent by 2030, from a 2012 baseline.

West Virginia led a group of 15 states that responded to the proposed rule by filing a lawsuit challenging EPA’s authority to regulate carbon pollution from power plants. On June 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected that suit and a companion suit filed by Murray Energy Corp.

“While additional legal challenges to the rule are certainly likely after it is finalized, it is extremely important that state officials get the support they need to develop a compliance strategy for West Virginia,” said Van Nostrand. “Once the final rule is issued, states will likely have only one year to file plans describing how the required CO2 emission reductions will be achieved. Future legal challenges may not be settled for years after the required state plan submission deadline, and if West Virginia waits that long to develop a state plan, EPA could just step in and implement a federal plan.”

Evan Hansen, president of Downstream Strategies, said that West Virginia has the potential to improve energy efficiency and increase its use of renewable energy.

According to the report, continuing previous trends under current policies and energy programs, would fail to achieve the required emission reductions. Alternatively, West Virginia can meets its Clean Power Plan obligations by integrating more natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency resources with its coal resources.

The report also includes a number of recommended legislative and regulatory policy changes to foster a comprehensive energy strategy that would lead toward compliance with the Clean Power Plan while also providing consumers reliable electricity services at reasonable costs, growing the state economy, and reducing the impact of energy production and use on the environment.

“Meeting these challenges requires leadership from the local, state, and federal government levels to support the development of West Virginia’s other energy resources on a level playing field with coal,” Hansen said. “This would put West Virginia on a path to lower our carbon pollution to meet our Clean Power Plan obligations, while fostering additional job growth and new economic opportunities.”

The joint report is made possible through a grant from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation. The foundation seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to protect freshwater streams and tributaries against the effects of pollution from energy development and use.

For more information on “The Clean Power Plan and West Virginia: Compliance Options and New Economic Opportunities,” contact James Van Nostrand at (304) 293-4694 or james.vannostrand@mail.wvu.edu or Evan Hansen at (304) 293-4694 or ehansen@downstreamstrategies.com. Copies of the report are available at the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development’s website and Downstream Strategies’ website.

About the Center for Energy and Sustainable Development

The Center for Energy and Sustainable Development is an energy and environmental public policy and research organization founded at the WVU College of Law in 2011. The Center’s activities revolve around training the next generation of energy and environmental attorneys, promoting sustainable practices in the development of energy resources, encouraging the development of clean energy resources and advancing the role of utilities in pursuing a sustainable energy path.

About Downstream Strategies, LLC

Downstream Strategies has more than 16 years of experience building capacity for sustainability through its energy, water, and land program areas. The firm supports strategic approaches to energy and climate change by developing plans, policies, and projects that are grounded in economic and policy analyses.

-WVU-

kc/06/15/15

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