Caught "Short": Are You Better Off Under the Clean Power Plan than You Were 14 Months Ago?

August 17, 2015

An Apples-to-Apples Comparison of Mass-Based State Emission Goals under the Proposed and Final Versions of the Clean Power Plan Rule

As we outlined last week, comparing the rate-based goals presented by EPA in its proposed Clean Power Plan with those presented in the final Clean Power Plan could lead to a misleading conclusion about the relative stringency of those goals. 

It turns out that a similar hazard awaits those seeking to compare the mass-based goals. 

In both the proposed and final Clean Power Plan rules, EPA gave each state the option to use a mass-based emission limit instead of its rate-based goal.  How did states fare between the proposed and final Clean Power Plan with regard to mass-based goals?  As with rate-based goals, a simple comparison between the numbers presented in the proposed rule and those presented in the final rule would be misleading.  Below, we explain the issue, and provide adjusted goals that allow for a more accurate comparison

Mass-based Goals under the Proposed Clean Power Plan

Initially in the proposed Clean Power Plan, EPA gave states the opportunity to calculate their own equivalent mass-based goals and provided a Technical Support Document outlining the methodological considerations that states would be required to use when making such a calculation.  Facing pressure from states and stakeholders, EPA later released a Notice and associated Technical Support Document providing additional information on the rate-to-mass translation.  EPA included two acceptable methodologies for translation—one methodology for a state that only wanted to include existing fossil fuel-fired power plants in its compliance plan and a second methodology for states that chose to include both existing and new plants.  EPA emphasized that these were not “prescriptive” methodologies, but rather “represent[ed] one particular way” of converting rate-based goals to mass-based equivalents.”  In an appendix, EPA included Tables of mass-based Interim and Final goals under each methodology for each state. 

Mass-based Goals under the Final Clean Power Plan

While states and others largely relied on these presumptively approvable mass-based goals when analyzing the proposed rule, some uncertainty remained and many requested a more formal equivalence determination from EPA.  The final Clean Power Plan fulfills that request.  EPA includes in the final rule legally equivalent mass-based goals that each state may choose to adopt in lieu of the rate-based goal.  As in the proposed rule, EPA has included existing-unit-only mass-based goals and also mass-based goals for states that choose to include new units—which EPA calls the “new source complement.”

EPA made a number of changes to its translation methodologies and to the 2012 baseline of units used to calculate state goals that could have an effect on the stringency of those goals beyond what could be presented by a mere arithmetic comparison.  Cataloguing all of these changes is beyond the scope of this alert.  However, because of one critical change, direct comparison of the presumptively approvable state mass-based goals from EPA’s proposal with the mass-based goals included in the final Clean Power Plan is misleading as an indicator of the relative stringency of the proposed and final mass-based goals. 

Caught Short

In its proposed rule Notice and Technical Support Document, EPA presented mass-based goals in metric tons—a measure of mass equal to 1000 kilograms.  The final Clean Power Plan, however, presents mass-based goals in short tons—a distinct measure of mass equivalent to 2000 pounds, or 907.1847 kg kilograms. 

Any attempt to compare how states fared as between the proposed and final rules when it comes to mass-based goals must first put those goals in the same unit of measure.  Specifically, one can make an apples-to-apples comparison by going back to the proposed rule’s mass-based goals and converting them from metric tons to short tons. 

Because one metric ton contains approximately 10% more mass than one short ton, this adjustment has an impact on the perceived change in stringency of the final mass-based goals for a number of states.  So in comparing the final rule’s mass-based goals to the proposed goals, it is important to recognize that the units in the final rule are about 10 percent smaller, and thus the final rule’s mass-based targets are more stringent than a direct comparison of the two sets of “ton” limits would suggest.  For a handful of states, while the mass-based targets in the final rule appear less stringent, the adjustment reveals that they are, in fact, somewhat more stringent.  This is the case for Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio under the existing-unit-only targets and for Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Utah, and Wisconsin under the “new source complement” targets. 

In the tables below, we present an accurate comparison of mass-based goals between the proposed and the final Clean Power Plan—both for existing-unit-only state plans and for those that also include new sources. 

The adjustment allows for a better assessment of the differences in stringency between the proposed and final rules.  These differences reflect the many other modifications that EPA implemented, including changes to the BSER methodology, the 2012 baseline, and projections about new sources.  We have not attempted to quantify just how much the difference between the adjusted proposed mass-based goals and the final mass-based goals is attributable to each of these other modifications.  Using consistent units of measure provides the right launching point for such an analysis.

So, before you go the extra kilometer in evaluating the change in stringency between the proposed and final mass-based goals, we urge you first to use a comparable unit of measure.  

Preliminary State-by-State Analysis of Relative Stringency of Existing Unit Mass-Based Goals Between Proposed and Final Clean Power Plan Rule

State

PROPOSED CPP 2030 Final Goal

FINAL CPP 2030 Final Goal

Percent Change from Adjusted Proposed to Final Existing Unit Mass Limit
(positive % is decrease in stringency)

Existing Unit Mass Limit
(metric tons)

Adjusted Existing Unit Mass Limit
(short tons)
(adjustment factor ≈ 10%)

Existing Unit Mass Limit
(short tons)

Alabama

50,267

55,410

56,880

3%

Arizona

17,734

19,548

30,171

54%

Arkansas

20,096

22,152

30,323

37%

California

35,805

39,468

48,410

23%

Colorado

25,335

27,927

29,900

7%

Connecticut

4,265

4,701

6,942

48%

Delaware

2,972

3,276

4,712

44%

Florida

68,221

75,201

105,095

40%

Georgia

31,676

34,917

46,347

33%

Idaho

468

516

1,493

189%

Illinois

58,471

64,453

66,477

3%

Indiana

73,090

80,568

76,114

-6%

Iowa

25,749

28,383

25,018

-12%

Kansas

24,081

26,545

21,991

-17%

Kentucky

70,203

77,386

63,126

-18%

Louisiana

26,823

29,567

35,427

20%

Maine

1,323

1,458

2,074

42%

Maryland

11,613

12,801

14,348

12%

Massachusetts

7,414

8,173

12,105

48%

Michigan

43,403

47,844

47,544

-1%

Minnesota

14,474

15,955

22,678

42%

Mississippi

16,449

18,132

25,304

40%

Missouri

55,792

61,500

55,463

-10%

Montana

12,828

14,140

11,303

-20%

Nebraska

18,142

19,998

18,273

-9%

Nevada

9,209

10,151

13,524

33%

New Hampshire

2,262

2,493

3,998

60%

New Jersey

6,741

7,431

16,600

123%

New Mexico

10,391

11,454

12,413

8%

New York

17,649

19,455

31,257

61%

North Carolina

36,918

40,695

51,266

26%

North Dakota

27,069

29,838

20,883

-30%

Ohio

68,751

75,785

73,770

-3%

Oklahoma

30,892

34,053

40,488

19%

Oregon

3,614

3,984

8,119

104%

Pennsylvania

72,272

79,666

89,822

13%

Rhode Island

2,924

3,223

3,522

9%

South Carolina

15,816

17,434

25,999

49%

South Dakota

1,602

1,766

3,539

100%

Tennessee

22,837

25,173

28,348

13%

Texas

135,937

149,845

189,589

27%

Utah

20,384

22,470

23,778

6%

Virginia

18,923

20,859

27,433

32%

Washington

2,862

3,155

10,739

240%

West Virginia

52,636

58,021

51,325

-12%

Wisconsin

25,275

27,861

27,987

0%

Wyoming

37,590

41,436

31,634

-24%

 

 

Preliminary State-by-State Analysis of Relative Stringency of New Source Complement Mass-Based Goals Between Proposed and Final Clean Power Plan Rule

State

PROPOSED CPP 2030 Final Goal

FINAL CPP 2030 Final Goal

Percent Change from Adjusted Proposed to Final New Source Complement Mass Limit

(positive % is decrease in stringency)

 

New Source Complement Mass Limit
(metric tons)

Adjusted New Source Complement Mass Limit
(short tons)(adjustment factor ≈ 10%)

New Source Complement Mass Limit
(short tons)

Alabama

59,214

65,272

57,636

-12%

Arizona

24,193

26,668

32,380

21%

Arkansas

23,527

25,934

30,686

18%

California

45,171

49,793

52,824

6%

Colorado

31,935

35,202

31,822

-10%

Connecticut

4,661

5,138

7,061

37%

Delaware

3,435

3,786

4,782

26%

Florida

83,259

91,777

106,642

16%

Georgia

42,394

46,731

46,945

0%

Idaho

990

1,091

1,639

50%

Illinois

65,574

72,283

67,199

-7%

Indiana

79,341

87,458

76,943

-12%

Iowa

28,496

31,411

25,282

-20%

Kansas

26,696

29,427

22,221

-24%

Kentucky

81,953

90,338

63,790

-29%

Louisiana

32,839

36,199

35,854

-1%

Maine

1,432

1,579

2,110

34%

Maryland

15,148

16,698

14,499

-13%

Massachusetts

8,204

9,043

12,304

36%

Michigan

46,725

51,505

48,094

-7%

Minnesota

17,218

18,980

22,931

21%

Mississippi

18,916

20,851

25,666

23%

Missouri

60,173

66,329

56,053

-15%

Montana

15,190

16,744

11,957

-29%

Nebraska

20,233

22,303

18,464

-17%

Nevada

11,396

12,562

14,719

17%

New Hampshire

2,392

2,637

4,061

54%

New Jersey

8,649

9,534

16,847

77%

New Mexico

13,337

14,702

13,230

-10%

New York

19,310

21,286

31,718

49%

North Carolina

45,165

49,786

51,877

4%

North Dakota

28,270

31,162

21,099

-32%

Ohio

75,116

82,801

74,608

-10%

Oklahoma

35,127

38,721

41,001

6%

Oregon

5,293

5,835

8,822

51%

Pennsylvania

79,618

87,764

90,931

4%

Rhode Island

3,074

3,389

3,584

6%

South Carolina

22,014

24,266

26,303

8%

South Dakota

2,000

2,205

3,580

62%

Tennessee

32,992

36,367

28,665

-21%

Texas

158,775

175,019

198,105

13%

Utah

24,165

26,637

25,301

-5%

Virginia

24,494

27,000

27,830

3%

Washington

4,772

5,260

11,563

120%

West Virginia

54,566

60,149

51,857

-14%

Wisconsin

28,102

30,977

28,309

-9%

Wyoming

39,550

43,596

33,472

-23%

 


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Van Ness Feldman will be preparing a comprehensive analysis of these rules that will be available on a cost-share basis. Our professionals are also available to provide counsel to companies and others as they assess the implications of the rule and prepare to submit comments to EPA. Please contact Kyle Danish, Stephen Fotis, or any other professionals in Van Ness Feldman’s Environmental Practice for additional information on the analysis or on other matters related to these rules.

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