Et Tu, California?

A Republican from Alaska and a coal-state Democrat are fairly obvious obstacles to EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. But California?

The California Energy Commission last month sent a letter to the EPA asking it to slow down on implementation of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, after the agency announced that it had finalized its finding that greenhouse gases do in fact pose a threat to public health. The CEC argues that phasing them in too fast could hurt efforts in the state to expand use of low-carbon energy.

“We believe such an approach would avoid the disruptive effect of the current EPA proposal,” wrote the CEC in the Dec. 23 letter, noting that the commission thinks the EPA rules would “likely retard, rather than facilitate, reductions in (greenhouse gas emissions) from the electricity sector.”

California passed its own climate law, AB32, in 2006. The CEC argues that the introduction of new regulations from the EPA would tie up the state’s efforts to reduce carbon, because EPA regulations operate differently from a cap and reduction program like theirs, which is more similar to the type of proposal being considered in Congress. As Reuters explains:

As part of California’s plan to build more wind and solar power farms, which generate power sporadically, it would construct a fleet of highly efficient natural gas-fired power plants to back those systems.

The new rules could slow down the permitting process of those new natural gas plants, and, in turn, the build out of renewable energy, the letter said. It would also increase reliance on older, less efficient natural gas plants that are not designed to work with renewable energy.

This seems like a justifiable complaint from California, but it does ignore the fact that the rest of the country is not (much as some might like it to be) California. Most states are still reliant on dirty, aging coal plants with no concrete plan in place for transitioning away, thus the push for EPA regulations.


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.