The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced its climate-change strategy to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030 pursuant to a seldom-used provision in the Clean Air Act that allows the states to implement their own plan to reduce emissions. States can provide less stringent standards and longer compliance time lines, thereby creating a ‘blurred line’ — where the federal jurisdiction ends and the state jurisdiction begins.
The success of the Clean Air Act rests on cooperative federalism — the distribution of power between the federal government and the states where each recognizes the powers of the other. In the next year, the public, states and interested entities can provide comment on these “blurred” jurisdictional lines. This discourse will raise interesting debates over legal and policy issues related to the EPA’s ability to regulate emissions “inside the fence” versus “beyond the fence” — the fence separating the public from the actual site of the power plants.
Florida must participate in this debate.
Florida is the third largest energy-consuming state in the nation, and soon to become the third most populous state — further driving more energy consumption to meet our air-conditioning needs. Florida is almost 90-percent reliant on fossil fuels for low-cost electricity, and will be affected by the consequences of emission-reduction strategies. Because Florida is almost entirely surrounded by ocean waters, sea-level rise is a critical part of our environmental concern.
Thus, Florida cannot be a passive participant in the climate change debate. Rather, we must vigorously use “all the tools in the toolbox” to provide electricity in the most environmentally sensible manner and at the same time, at the lowest possible cost.
To balance its objectives, the EPA will hold a 120-day comment period that will include public hearings beginning the week of July 28 in Denver, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh. Visit http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/forms/public-hearings-clean-power-plan-proposed-rule for additional information. I hope to see the state of Florida and many of you there.
Jeremy Lawton Susac, environmental attorney, Miami