Kentucky Carbon Regulations and what is next after the Clean Power Plan

Kentucky’s power plants emit more carbon per year than most states. We also are home to some of the most carbon-intensive fleets in the nation. Kentucky also is home to some of the least efficient plants.  We emit more carbon per megawatt hour than most states in the country.

Under the Federal Clean Power Plan, (carbon regulations) the state was to come up with a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 30.36% from 2012 emissions.

They were to do this through a combination of reductions through three designated building blocks, based on reductions from 2012 as a baseline.

Kentucky’s step 1 interim goal (1,643 pounds per megawatt-hour) reflected changes EPA made from the draft plan to provide a smoother glide path and less of a “cliff” at the beginning of the program.

With the ushering in of the Trump Administration in 2017, there has been a call for the repeal of carbon regulations that were enacted, but being challenged in court, during the Obama administration.

  • In December of 2017, the Trump administration began steps to replace the Clean Power Plan
  • The EPA released a timeline of how it anticipates the repeal process will move forward.
  • EPA has suggested it will have a final rule ready in October 2018. The agency is proposing to narrowly consider the “best system of emissions reductions” as applying only to individual stationary sources. The Obama administration had sought to take a systemwide approach.
  • The agency is considering emissions controls on well sites and compressor stations, along with standards for pneumatic pumps and the requirement that a professional engineer certify closed vent system design capacity. EPA plans to have a notice of proposed rulemaking out in August 2018 and to have a final rule in place by September 2019.

In addition, critical information on climate that would be necessary for scientific information to comment on the repeal of the CPP has been removed from government websites. According to a detailed analysis from the Environmental Data & Government Initiative:

“Beyond reducing access to actionable information, removing public Web resources can undermine democratic institutions such as notice-and-comment rule making. Also among the April 28 removals, was the EPA’s website for the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s defining regulation in the fight against climate change. Months before the EPA’s proposed repeal of the rule, the website was removed and its URL began redirecting to a single page about President’s Trump Executive Order on Energy Independence, which called for a review of the Plan. The previous website hosted and aggregated resources for the public to understand the Clean Power Plan and for states to develop emissions plans. Spanish-language Web resources, like fact sheets and community information, were removed without being archived, likely due to the same errors as the Student’s climate change site removal. The replacement page links to the Executive Order notice, the Federal Register, and related news releases, but provides almost no information justifying or explaining the shift in policy. The new page does not mention that a previous site existed and, importantly, does not point to the archived version of the Clean Power Plan website.


EPA fact sheet on the Clean Power Plan can be found HERE.

Briefing Materials*: The Clean Power Plan in Kentucky
Briefing Materials: EPA Background info on the Clean Power Plan
Background Resource: Mark Dixon’s Cop 21 Website
Background Resource: Mark Dixon’s  COP21 climate presentation

Legislative Barriers:

  • In the 2014 session, a bill was passed into law (HB388) that severely restricts the Energy and Environment Cabinet from setting state-based standards as mandated under the Clean Power Plan. Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet stated in their June 2015 presentation to the Interim Joint Committee that a state-based approach would be far preferable to a federal plan.
  • In the 2015 session, a workgroup was formed to address state concerns with the Federal plan, as directed from HCR168. The Federal Environmental Regulation Impact Assessment Task Force that was formed as a result of this resolution that includes both legislators and representatives from the Oil and Gas Association, Coal Association, Community Action Kentucky, AARP,  Kentucky Association of Manufacturers and others. The Energy and Environment Cabinet briefed the committee on Kentucky’s concerns with the final Clean Power plan in August, 2015. Presentation  HERE.

Kentucky Energy  and Environment Cabinet:

  • “We have known greenhouse gas emissions limits were a matter of when, not if.” — Len Peters, Former Ky. Energy and Environment Cabinet, in a presentation to the Interim Joint Committee on Ky. Natural Resources and the Environment, June 2015.
  • Former State Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters discusses carbon reduction efforts. Link HERE.
  • Cabinet comments on the Clean Power Plan HERE.
  • Cabinet whitepaper on electricity price increases HERE.

Kentucky Attorney General’s Office:

  • The Kentucky Attorney General raised concerns about “stranded assets” (coal plant investments already made or in process that might be affected by a plant shutdown).
  • The AG raised concerns that the timeline for implementation is “unreasonable” and could cause problems with the reliable delivery of electricity.
  • Fourteen coal-producing states joined in a petition to block the Clean Power Plan, including Kentucky’s Attorney General. But a three-judge panel unanimously rejected the petition in June 2015. Story HERE.
  • “Conway Pledges Continued EPA Coal Fight”, Louisville Courier-Journal, July 29, 2015 link HERE.
  • More information on the Attorney General’s views, as well as the Governor and Energy Cabinet HERE.
Controversy regarding low-income communities:

One aspect of the Clean Power Plan that seems to be resonating with lawmakers is the effect on low income communities. However low-income communities can receive great benefits from opportunities to leverage more energy efficiency, distributed solar, and diversification of their energy choices, not to mention the health improvements to communities impacted by the pollution from coal-fired power plants. Fact sheet from NRDC on impacts to low-income communities HERE. Statement from the NAACP on support for clean air act regulations HERE. Statements from additional organizations representing low-income community interests HERE.

Where States Stand:

According to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, most states, including Kentucky, are already making significant progress toward cutting carbon emissions. Blog post on study HERE. Chart on state progress HERE.

Studies and Information relevant to southern states:
Fact Sheets Relating to the Clean Power Plan in Kentucky:

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