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With federal efforts halted, should Missouri stop preparing for the Clean Power Plan?

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With the federal Clean Power Plan currently in legal limbo, the Missouri House is considering a bill to pause Missouri’s implementation efforts.

Rep. Jack Bondon, a Republican from Belton, has proposed a bill that would at-least-temporarily halt Missouri’s work on a state response to the Clean Power Plan.

Rep. Jack Bondon

Rep. Jack Bondon

During a hearing on his House Bill 2543, Rep. Bondon cited the federal Supreme Court’s ruling to stall implementation of the plan while ongoing legal challenges play out.

Missouri and 23 other states are currently fighting the federal government in court to stop the Clean Power Plan. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has filed a joint amicus brief supporting the lawsuit.

“House Bill 2543 simply prevents the state from spending time, money and energy on producing a state implementation plan while the litigation proceeds,” Rep. Bondon said.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has been working to meet a September 6 deadline to submit the state’s plan to the Environmental Protection Agency. The deadline is now uncertain due to the ongoing legal challenge.

Leanne Tippett Mosby, director of the state’s Division of Environmental Quality, said the state has been working with stakeholders to create a proposal to implement the Clean Power Plan. The work includes modeling various scenarios to determine the best course of action as Missouri works to reduce carbon emissions to 1,272 pounds per megawatt-hour. Missouri power plants currently emit 2,008 pounds per megawatt hour, according to the EPA.

Tippett Mosby said it was likely the state would have requested an extension from the federal government as planners need more time to decide to how to allocate emission allowances and determine Missouri’s participation in a clean energy incentive program.

Several energy and business stakeholders support Rep. Bondon’s effort to pause these planning efforts. Some lawmakers have also voiced support.

“I think the only shame is that we actually have to do this, that we have to give direction to our agency so we don’t get hamstrung moving forward,” said Rep. Rocky Miller, a Republican from Lake Ozark who chairs the House Committee on Energy and the Environment.

Rep. Bondon said that if the courts eventually decide in favor of the EPA, Missouri’s Clean Power Plan implementation could continue.

“Once the court has ruled, then we will have our final marching orders,” he said. “Right now we are in a state of limbo.”

However, representatives from the Sierra Club and Renew Missouri, a green energy advocacy group, warned that halting Missouri’s planning efforts could lead to the state being unprepared to submit a state implementation plan. The EPA may then choose to create a plan for Missouri—a situation most stakeholders have said they want to avoid.

However, some lawmakers have questioned whether that was a likely scenario, noting that the courts would almost certainly have to extend the deadline, allowing states to complete their implementation plans.

If the Clean Power Plan eventually dies in court, Tippett Mosby said Missouri would not be able to implement its compliance strategy due to a 1994 law that prevents the state from enacting air quality standards that are stricter than federal standards.

“We wouldn’t be able to move forward with any rule-making until things are resolved at the federal level,” Tippett Mosby said.

She said that if Rep. Bondon’s bill passes, the state workers currently tasked with creating the Clean Power Plan implementation strategy won’t be left in a lurch.

“If they’re not doing this, there are plenty of other things to fill the time,” she said.

The Missouri Chamber remains concerned about the potential cost increases associated with the Clean Power Plan.

“For decades, Missouri’s competitive energy prices have been an advantage as our state sought to attract growth and business investment. The costs associated with the Clean Power Plan threaten to turn this advantage into a disadvantage for Missouri,” said Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs. “We remain hopeful that the court system will rule in our favor and block the federal government from achieving this broad, costly regulatory expansion.”

For more information, King at tking@mochamber.com or by phone at 573.634.3511.

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