Shutdown Could Delay Power Plant Carbon Rules, Renewable Fuel Standard

US Capitol building

by | Oct 1, 2013

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US Capitol buildingThe US government shutdown may delay several high-profile EPA rules including the carbon pollution standards for new power plants and a proposal on renewable fuel volume standards for 2014.

The EPA has been hit especially hard by Congress’ failure to secure a budget deal. Some 94 percent of the agency’s 16,205 employees will be furloughed beginning today, according to the EPA’s contingency plan.

The 7 percent of employees who will continue working during the shutdown include those whose jobs ensure “the safety of human life and the protection of property” and those funded outside the appropriations process.

The government shutdown “will mean that EPA effectively shuts down,” EPA chief Gina McCarthy told reporters last week, The Hill reports.

It will also delay the public comment period and finalized carbon emissions standards for new power plants. The agency published the proposed power plant rules last month and is slated to publish proposed standards regulating carbon pollution from existing power plants in June 2014.

Additionally, the EPA’s proposals for 2014 biofuel targets, due to be finalized in December, could be pushed back by the shutdown, Reuters reports. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute have petitioned the EPA to lower the 18.15 billion 2014 renewable fuel mandate to about 14.8 billion gallons. The agency issued the final 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard in August.

The EPA unit responsible for enforcing legal action against air and water polluters is also running short staffed, with just 182 of its 804 employees working during the shutdown, according to Reuters.

Scott Fulton, former EPA general counsel and an attorney at Beveridge and Diamond, told the news agency that the shutdown may slow down the permitting process for companies wishing to build or expand a facility because “permitting does not qualify (as essential).”

Photo Credit: US Capitol building via Shutterstock



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