The Clean Power Plan and energy efficiency: where do we go from here?

As another round of global climate talks has concluded, many observers wonder whether the 2016 election means the end of greenhouse gas regulation in the United States. More specifically, what happens to the Clean Power Plan?

Even before the election, the Clean Power Plan was already years away from being finalized. Implementation of the rule is currently stayed as it moves through the courts. Even if it sails through the courts unscathed and the original compliance schedule remains in effect, states would not have to meet their first targets for curbing power plant emissions until two years after the next presidential election (2022).

When it comes to environmental regulation, it’s best to take the long view. Rulemakings made pursuant to authority under the Clean Air Act are generally litigated and take years to develop. They often span across multiple administrations. Take the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the Environmental Protection Agency program to limit emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. It took decades to evolve. There were multiple years when the EPA didn’t act or the rulemaking just sat in courts.

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