2014 and 2016
2015 State Legislation
In the 2015 session, legislatures in 32 states introduced 95 bills or resolutions related to the Clean Power Plan and power plants carbon dioxide emissions regulations. Specifically, 27 states introduced 64 bills and nine states enacted legislation (see chart below). An additional 19 states introduced 30 nonbinding resolutions and 11 of these states adopted resolutions (see chart below).
In regards to executive action, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued Executive Order 2015-22 in April 2015 barring the state from submitting a 111(d) state plan. Several governors, including Indiana Governor Mike Pence, have sent comments to EPA or letters to President Obama stating their state would not comply with EPA's regulations as they stand.
Note: All legislation discussed below specifically mentions the Clean Power Plan. Multiple states have debated legislation concerning the adoption of new administrative regulations, departmental appropriations or emissions reduction requirements, however only legislation that specifically names the Clean Power Plan is reviewed in this document.
This session, a number of state legislatures looked to establish their role before the release of final regulations. Legislation introduced in more than a dozen states, for example, required the legislature’s approval of a state plan prior to its submission to EPA; legislation was enacted in several states (see Table 1). Of this legislation, a portion completely restricted a state agency’s authority to submit a plan without legislative approval while other states required a state plan to be submitted to the legislature, but not require legislative approval.
Another area being addressed in legislation this session would require an entity such as an environmental regulator, legislature, committee or task force to develop an impact report or to study the regulations impact on affordable power, reliability, and consumers as well as the feasibility of compliance. Of the states considering this requirement, legislation has been enacted in at least five states. Introduced, but not enacted, legislation in five states would have prohibited state plan development until legal challenges to the regulations are resolved, while legislation in one state would have encouraged a legislative committee to employ legal counsel to litigate EPA. Legislation in six states, including a bill enacted in Arkansas, proposed creating a reliability safety valve against early power plant retirements. Proposed legislation in four states would have capped rate increases. Legislation in additional states would have required state public utility commission and FERC certification of state plans to ensure reliability. Legislation introduced in several states would have established public hearings on proposed state plans and a bill introduced, but not enacted, in one state would bar the state from complying with implementation. Introduced legislation in two states would have established market-based compliance options, including cap-and-invest and carbon credit systems.
Table 1 below displays summaries of enacted legislation. Table 2 displays summaries of introduced but not enacted resolutions.
Resolutions in 10 states encouraged a dismissal of the final regulations or a full exemption from regulations while resolutions in four states requested the EPA significantly modify regulations. Four states’ resolutions requested U.S. congressional intervention and one state resolution would have refused to implement any regulations. Resolutions in five states—including adopted resolutions in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Missouri—supported their state agencies’ comments submitted to EPA on the rules.
Table 3 below displays summaries of adopted resolutions. Table 4 displays summaries of introduced resolutions.
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Additional Legislation of Interest
A number of states introduced bills or resolutions in 2015 that addressed greenhouse gas emissions without naming the Clean Power Plan as a motivation. These bills and resolutions—which are categorized below—sought to reduce greenhouse gases, to establish or join a carbon market, conduct an emissions analysis, study grid reliability, support coal-fired generation or expand renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in a state. For more information, please contact Jocelyn Durkay or visit our Energy Database.
- Greenhouse Gas Emission Requirements: A number of states already have a detailed emissions reduction plan and several are looking to modify those requirements. Emissions reductions standards have been established as state goals or through market-based mechanisms such as a regional carbon market or a cap-and-trade program. In the 2015 session, legislation was considered in at least California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Oregon.
Multiple states have carbon dioxide emissions programs, including California and nine northeastern states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Additional states are considering taxes or fees for fossil fuels, carbon reduction bonds, carbon credits programs, cap-and-trade or cap-and-dividend programs, or other financial incentives for carbon reductions. Legislation was considered in at least Hawaii, Illinois (see Table 2 above), New Mexico (see Table 2 above), Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Legislation introduced in Colorado required the inclusion of the social cost of carbon in legislative fiscal notes while a Vermont bill would have authorized the use of carbon offsets in regional carbon trading. Two states—New Jersey and Virginia—considered legislation this session to join RGGI. New Jersey was a founding member of RGGI but the governor, without the approval of the legislature, left the initiative in 2011. In the 2015 New Jersey session, one resolution to rejoin RGGI was adopted.
- Studies: Commissioning studies can allow legislatures to gather information to aid with future policy decisions. Legislatures in a number of states considered studies in 2015: legislation in Illinois would have examined previous and future emissions reductions in the state. Massachusetts legislation would have examined the lifecycle emissions of all fuels and establish a task force to study actions needed to further reduce emissions. Oregon legislation would have examined the return on investment for carbon emission activities. Legislation in Washington would have explored the costs and benefits of accelerated retirement of coal-fired generation units.
- Rate Considerations for Industry: Affordable and reliable generation are principal concerns for both states and industry. Legislatures in at least two states considered bills that would examine the impact of electricity rates on energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries (EITEs) such as mining, manufacturing and forestry. Legislation has been enacted in Arkansas (see Table 1 above) and Virginia. Bills were introduced in Minnesota (including Table 2 above) and Washington. At least three states included specific provisions for EITEs in electricity rates.
- Supporting Fossil Fuels: In 2015, legislatures in Kentucky and Montana have adopted resolutions supporting coal, coal-fired power plants and carbon capture and sequestration technologies. Legislation introduced in Montana supported coal-fired power plants while legislation enacted in Montana and Wyoming encouraged enhanced oil and gas recovery.
- Expanding Low Emission Sources: Renewable energy, nuclear energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation are low or zero emission energy sources. In the 2015 session, legislatures in at least Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia and Washington considered exploring increased use of these technologies and energy diversification to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, a number of states explored the expansion of renewable energy requirements or net metering policies to promote and accommodate increasing quantities of renewable energy.
*Note: Proposed legislation is not an indicator of the likelihood of consideration, passage or failure.
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