Senior Advisor Susan Tierney Considers Past and Present EPA Regulations in WRI Blog Post

May 14, 2015

A recent deadline under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) regulation passed without any reliability issues for the electric system, which bodes well for new regulations proposed by the EPA, according to Senior Advisor Susan Tierney on the World Resources Institute (WRI) blog. In "Déjà vu: Pushback to U.S. Clean Power Plan Reminiscent of 2011 Mercury Rule" (May 14, 2015), Dr. Tierney discusses how MATS regulations -- which were criticized as being a threat to electric system reliability -- can be compared to the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) by highlighting the reliability of the system at the time of the MATS compliance deadline. In particular, she explains that, "Because history has a habit of repeating itself, it's worth understanding why April 16th was a remarkable (and remarkably dull) milestone in electric-industry history."

Like MATS, the CPP's proposed CO2 emission reduction guidelines have raised system reliability concerns by some in the industry. Dr. Tierney argues that, like MATS, the EPA's assumptions in the CPP are reasonable and achievable not only because they are flexible, but also because they reflect an already-occurring transition away from coal and will take place in a dynamic and responsive industry. "One of the best ways to assure electric reliability will be for states to actively avail themselves of the Clean Power Plan's flexibility, rather than 'just say no,'" notes Dr. Tierney. "The more states sit in the driver seat and figure out how to arrive at the emissions-reduction destination in a manner consistent with their goals and preferences, the more likely it is that they'll accomplish them."

Read the blog post

Read a related Clean Power Plan report