Public Comment on EPA’s Federal Plan and Model Rule


By Marilyn A. Brown, Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology

November 19, 2015


The U.S. fleet of fossil fuel fired power plants is our nation’s single largest source of climate-destabilizing pollution and one of the largest sources in the world. 

Climate change presents a clear and present danger to human health and the environment. All Americans need to be protected from the serious adverse impacts of climate pollution, in whichever state they live.

  • The Clean Power Plan will save
    • thousands lives each year,
    • prevent tens of thousands of asthma attacks annually, and
    • help ensure hundreds of thousands of Americans do not miss work and school due to harmful air pollution.
  • The monetary value of these public health and climate benefits is in the billions.

Thank you, EPA for finalizing carbon pollution limits that: give States

the opportunity to develop their own homegrown plans based on their own policy priorities and input from local stakeholders.

Comments on the Model Rule

  • States should seize the opportunity they have under the Clean Power Plan to develop their own state plans, tailored to their unique opportunities for innovation and cost savings
  • EPA has provided extensive support to states to help facilitate the development of their plans. It now needs to finalize the model rule frameworks swiftly to provide yet another tool in the toolbox to help states develop plans thoughtfully yet efficiently.
  • Standardized model rules will provide important guidance to states and help them develop strong plans that ensure environmental integrity.
  • Model rule frameworks can help reduce the administrative work necessary for states by providing the nuts & bolts of their regulatory program, allowing them to focus on the customizable components that are most important to their stakeholders.
  • Finalized model rule frameworks help facilitate interstate trading by doing the “heavy lifting” on the detailed underpinnings of emissions trading programs—which can ease the path forward to achieving pollution reductions by driving innovation and cost-savings. The “trading ready” feature provides an important opportunity for states to adopt a state plan that is compatible with others, ensuring that companies have more flexibility in compliance.
  • I strongly encourage EPA to consider whether some components of the model rule can be finalized shortly after the comment period closes to provide states even more clarity as they work to develop their plans.

if states decline to carry out their responsibilities to protect human health and the environment from damaging carbon pollution, it is EPA’s responsibility to do so. The protection of our communities and families from harmful air pollution is safeguarded under our nation’s clean air laws – regardless of the state we all live in or what state our nation’s children are raised in.

This is the compelling bipartisan vision of the Clean Air Act – that all Americans are entitled to the protections of clean air under the law.

To realize that vision – to ensure clean air for all Americans -- EPA must act timely, effectively and ensure that emissions reductions are secured when states decline to do so.

In Conclusion

  • We are in a race against time to address climate pollution.  As Pope Francis said: “Climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to future generations.”
  • I endorse EPA’s proposal to issue a federal plan for any state that does not meet one of the interim state planning milestones, and urge EPA to do so within one year or less after finding that the state is not on track to submit a final state plan.
  • Finally, it is EPA’s responsibility to ensure these emissions reductions are in fact realized.  EPA should move forward swiftly with accountability mechanisms to ensure that the required reductions in carbon pollution are in fact secured.

Under the cooperative federalism model embodied in our nation’s time tested clean air laws, states have the first and foremost opportunity to act.  But when they fail to act on climate pollution, EPA should step in, to ensure that all of our communities and families are protected from the impacts of climate pollution.

Contact Information

Dr. Marilyn A. Brown
Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems
School of Public Policy
Georgia Institute of Technology

DM Smith Building
685 Cherry Street, Room 312
Atlanta, GA 30332-0345

Phone: 404-385-0303

Climate and Energy Policy Lab: