Can Biden’s newest climate rule survive?

Can Biden’s newest climate rule survive?

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NEW EAGLE, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on September 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, will be one of two plants in the region to be shut down, affecting 380 employees.  The Evironmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Obama administration have been taking major steps to get coal-fired power plants into compliance with clean air regulations. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

A plume of exhaust extends from a coal-fired power plant southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. | Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The Biden administration’s newest ambitious climate rule isn’t even out yet, but Republican-led states are already gearing up to attack it.

EPA’s forthcoming regulation slashing carbon pollution from power plants would be the strongest-ever effort to tackle one of the nation’s leading drivers of climate change.

The agency’s last major attempt to clean up the power sector, a 2015 rule that formed the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s climate policies, was struck down by the Supreme Court last year — highlighting the challenges the Biden administration faces in making this policy stick, write Pamela King, Lesley Clark and Jean Chemnick.

While the power sector’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen over the years, they still amount to the second-largest source of climate pollution in the country. (Transportation is No. 1.) And 60 percent of U.S. electricity was generated last year by burning coal, natural gas or petroleum. President Joe Biden pledged to zero out energy emissions by 2035.

EPA’s regulation, which could change before it is finished and formally announced in the coming weeks, would not dictate what kinds of fuels or technologies power companies must use — an aspect that could help it survive legal scrutiny. Obama’s policy pushed utilities to switch from coal to cleaner sources of power, which the Supreme Court ruled overstepped the agency’s authority. The justices prohibited EPA from proposing similarly broad changes to the entire power system.

The Biden policy would instead restrict greenhouse gas emissions from individual power plants to such a degree that in order to survive, fossil fuel-burning plants would either have to capture their carbon dioxide emissions or use other fuels, like hydrogen, writes Jean Chemnick. The move could also slow the growth of new fossil fuel plants, as zero-carbon sources like wind and solar expand.

No commercial power plants in the United States use carbon capture now, but EPA views the technology as ready to go, two people familiar with the agency’s discussions told Jean. And Biden’s landmark climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, offers generous tax credits for companies that capture their carbon pollution.

Still, there’s no guarantee the proposal will survive the coming attacks from fossil fuel proponents. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who led the charge against the Obama rule, said his office is prepared for the next fight.

“We are eager to review the EPA’s new proposed rule on power plants, and we’ll be ready once again to lead the charge in the fight against federal overreach,” the Republican attorney general said in a statement.

Plus, if Republicans regain full control of Congress and the White House, they could try to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal the rule, something GOP lawmakers did repeatedly to Obama-era regulations during the Trump administration.

It’s Monday thank you for tuning in to POLITICO’s Power Switch. I’m your host, Arianna Skibell. Power Switch is brought to you by the journalists behind E&E News and POLITICO Energy. Send your tips, comments, questions to [email protected]

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Power Centers

COLORADO CITY, TX - JANUARY 21:  Wind turbines are viewed at a wind farm on January 21, 2016 in Colorado City, Texas. Wind power accounted for 8.3 percent of the electricity generated in Texas during 2013. Texas, which in just the last five years has tripled its oil production and delivered hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy, is looking at what could be a sustained downturn in oil prices. Oil, which has now fallen to under  a barrel, has forced many oil companies to let go of workers and to abandon future projects.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A truck drives past a wind farm in Colorado City, Texas. | Getty Images

Texas power
Texas is a sweet spot for low-carbon energy deployment, leading the nation in wind energy and second only to California in solar power, write Miranda Willson and Jason Plautz.

But two years after the electric grid nearly collapsed during a severe winter storm, conservative lawmakers in Texas have proposed a slew of policies that could upend the state’s status as a clean energy powerhouse and push renewable energy projects elsewhere.

Carlson on climate
Fox News abruptly announced today that the cable network and its conservative media star Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways.

Robin Bravender takes a look back at eight times the polarizing cable host waded into climate and energy topics on his show in recent years, from topics like gas stoves to the Green New Deal.

What’s up with EU wind
EU leaders are meeting to discuss obstacles preventing the bloc from meeting its wind energy goals, writes Victor Jack.

Only half of planned wind capacity across the European Union came online last year. And not a single new, large offshore wind project reached a final investment decision.

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Alessandra Korap Munduruku pictured in the Brazilian Amazon. | Photo courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize

The Goldman Environmental Prize will go to six environmental activists this year, recognizing them for their efforts to protect lands and communities from Brazil to Turkey to Texas.

Biden will veto Congress’ resolution to undo his two-year pause on new solar import tariffs from four Southeast Asian countries should it reach his desk.

The White House is months late in establishing two task forces to identify permitting issues for carbon capture and storage projects.

That’s it for today, folks! Thanks for reading.

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