The completed rules issued this week by the EPA to limit carbon emissions from power plants run 1,560 pages--nighttime reading only for policy wonks.
But the agency's final Clean Power Plan has changed considerably from the draft rules issued in June 2014.
And as utility executives, advocacy groups, and politicians pore through the details, one thing has become clear: The burden will fall most heavily on those states that burn coal to make electricity--and it will fall more harshly than it did in last year's draft rules.
Details of the regulations have been dissected and analyzed in a post on the FixGov blog published by the Brookings Institute.
While last year's draft rules "gave coal-dependent states a break in many ways," writes Phillip A. Wallach, "the final rule does not."
"That means that those states—generally already hostile to the rule—now face a much more difficult task in complying with the rule."
EPA Clean Power Plan: Final cut in carbon emission as percent of 2012 baseline [Brookings Institute]
Each of the 50 states must devise its own plan for meeting a target that imposes two emissions standards on a weighted average of the 2012 generating mix: 1,305 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour for fossil-fuel fired steam generating plants, and 771 pounds/MWh for stationary combustion turbines.
States can use just about any measures they wish to achieve the goals--from more renewable energy to conservation measures that cut demand--but they must also prepare a fallback plan that is "Federally enforceable" if they choose not to create their own plan.
DON'T MISS: Congress Likely To Fight EPA Power Plant Carbon Regulations (Dec 2014)
A chart in the Brookings blog post shows the greater impacts of the final rules on those states with the dirtiest grids.
Wallach notes that the draft rules required a 19-percent reduction in carbon emissions from Kentucky by 2030, relative to its 2012 levels, but the final rules now require a cut of 41 percent.
EPA Clean Power Plan: Change in state carbon emission from draft to final [Brookings Institute]
Kentucky, he adds, is the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has already publicly encouraged states not to comply with the Clean Power Plan.
On the other end of the scale, Idaho--whose grid contains substantial amounts of power generated from hydro--must cut carbon only 10 percent, while its target under the draft plan was 73 percent.
Elected representatives from coal-producing states plan a vigorous fight against the rules in Congress, led by McConnell. They are calling the Clean Power Plan regulations "job killers" and warning that the EPA will cause their constituents' electricity rates to soar.
MORE: EPA's Coal-Plant Emissions Rules: This Will Be The Big Fight (Jun 2014)
Suggesting that states simply refuse to comply with the rules is similar in some ways to the tactics suggested against the Affordable Care Act.
And like that six-year political football, the EPA's Clean Power Plant rules promise to be a big, bruising political battle with enormous consequences for the nation.
This time, however, the consequences extend to the environment as well.
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