EPA Consulted With Hundreds of Groups On Carbon Rule for Existing Power Plants

Bloomberg BNA — Senior Environmental Protection Agency officials consulted with at least 210 separate groups representing a broad range of interests in the Washington, D.C., area and held more than 100 meetings and events with additional organizations across regional offices as the agency prepared its carbon pollution regulation for existing power plants.

Data provided to Bloomberg BNA upon request show the agency held meetings with a broad range of unions, lawyers, publicly traded companies, trade groups, governmental agencies and state organizations and participated in several dozen events such as conference calls and conferences as the EPA prepared the proposed standards ahead of an anticipated June release.

Either EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe or Senior Counsel Joe Goffman participated in “most”of the meetings held at EPA headquarters, according to the agency. More than one of the senior officials participated in some of the meetings.

Some of the meetings were held one-on-one and others had multiple groups participating, the agency told Boomberg BNA April 4. The records provided included meetings held through March 12.

“The meetings ranged in substance from businesses talking about a specific proposal or technology to groups that wanted a broad overview of the existing power plant standards in the Climate Action Plan,” according to the agency.

President Barack Obama directed the EPA to craft carbon dioxide pollution standards for both new and existing power plants under his June 2013 Climate Action Plan. The agency expects to release its proposed rule for existing power plants in June under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

Under Obama's plan, the EPA would finalize the standards for existing power plants in June 2015 and states would submit their detailed plans to comply with the regulation by June 30, 2016. According to the Energy Information Administration, there are 6,997 power plants operating 19,023 generating units in the U.S.

The EPA sent its proposed regulation to the White House Office of Management and Budget for interagency review on March 31, but has revealed few details of its contents to date.

Broad Array of Groups Consulted

Meeting records show the EPA has consulted a broad array of groups—ranging from national trade associations to small local communities and individuals—as it crafted the existing power plant standards. Consulted groups include local governments, states, governors, utilities, environmental groups, corporations, community groups, unions, trade groups and tribal entities, among others.

Among the publicly traded companies that have met with the EPA on the standards are Xcel Energy Inc., Entergy Corp., Southern Co., Duke Energy, Opower, Dominion Resources and Alcoa Inc.

Federal agencies consulted in the process include the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Energy Department, according to records.

The EPA also reports having met with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) and other state officials, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) and other officials, and state officials from California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York and Ohio among others.

Large trade associations were also consulted as the EPA prepared the standards, according to the meeting records. The American Forest and Paper Association, American Public Power Association, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, National Association of State Energy Officials, National League of Cities, National Mining Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association all met with the agency as it prepared the standards.

EPA records also show significant outreach with academic institutions, community groups, unions and legal firms.

Among the environmental and progressive groups the agency reported meeting with are the Center for American Progress, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists and World Resources Institute.

Significant Outreach at Regional Level

In addition to the meetings held at EPA headquarters, the agency also reported significant outreach efforts through group meetings, conference calls and other events at the regional level.

Records show the agency held 15 outreach events in Region 1, 17 in Region 3, four in Region 3, 12 in Region 4, six in Region 5, 17 in Region 6, 12 in Region 7, 13 in Region 8, 11 in Region 9 and eight in Region 10.

Participants in those meetings ranged from large conferences with hundreds of attendees to smaller groups such as the National Coral Reef Task Force and the Air & Waste Management Association.Many of the meetings included state officials, utility groups and electric cooperatives, according to the records.

Also included in the list of records provided to Bloomberg BNA were the 11 “listening sessions” held by the agency in various parts of the country in February as it prepared the standards. The EPA says those sessions played “an important role in helping EPA develop smart, cost-effective guidelines.”

Critics have said the listening sessions did not occur in parts of the country that will be most starkly impacted by the standards once they are finalized, such as Kentucky and West Virginia.

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