“Flexibility” is the crown jewel on the tiara of EPA talking points regarding the Clean Power Plan.
In the real world, the rule is rigid as they come, quite contrary to what EPA purports. As I’ve before explained, “The rule takes all the known means of reducing GHG emissions within the electricity sector, ratchets them up to an impossible degree, calculates the GHG reductions commensurate with each of these measures, and then uses the resultant aggregate emissions reductions to set a state-wide standard.” Of course, EPA can’t admit as much–i.e., that the rule wrings blood from oranges–so instead the agency takes every opportunity (and then some) to trumpet the regulation’s supposed “flexibility.” According to EPA (with ad nauseam repetitiveness), the Clean Power Plan affords states and utilities the “flexibility” to choose any number of policies outside of the four “building blocks” on which the rule’s emissions standards are based.
But here’s the thing: No one at EPA can identify any ersatz building blocks!
Take, for example, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s right-hand official, Office of Air and Radiation chief Janet McCabe.
In late February, McCabe was reduced to “halting, incomplete sentences” when asked by FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller to name alternatives to the policies on which were based the states’ Clean Power Plan targets.
That was almost two full months ago. Having been reportedly startled by FERC Commissioner Moeller’s “flexibility” question, one would imagine that EPA’s McCabe, in the time since, could have identified a significant greenhouse gas reduction strategy that States could use in lieu of the four building blocks (if such a policy actually exists). But she didn’t! Or, rather, she *can’t*.
On Tuesday, McCabe testified before a House Energy and Commerce subpanel, during which she was asked by a friendly lawmaker to elaborate on what EPA means when it says that the Clean Power Plan is “flexible.” Somewhat incredibly, McCabe’s answer was even worse than it was last February. I’ve excerpted text of their exchange below.
Rep. Lois Capps (D-California): Ms. McCabe, can you elaborate on the flexibilities that states have and just tell us some examples, or what that means?
EPA Office of Air & Radiation chief Janet McCabe: So there are a number of ways we’ve built flexibility into the plan. First of all, as I’ve said already, there’s no prescribed approach or control technology that states or companies have to use. We’ve identified four, but there are many other ways that companies could go about reducing carbon, including really positive community building things like investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
McCabe responded by citing two alternatives: increased green energy production and increased energy efficiency. In fact, these are two of the four building blocks (the third and fourth, to be precise)! So she was asked to provide alternatives to the four building blocks, and she responded by identifying two of the four building blocks.
In this fashion, EPA’s “flexibility” claims have again been belied.