Tribes and the Clean Power Plan

On November 18, 2015, the Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the Western Area Power Administration will be hosting a webinar from 1:00-2:30 PM EST entitled EPA Clean Power Plan: What Tribes Need to Know.  Presenters from the EPA will discuss what tribes should know about the CPP and the proposed Federal Plan and Model Rules. Registration is available here.  An agenda has not yet been released.

There are several aspects of the CPP that have the potential to affect tribes directly.  Included among these are the fact that tribes with qualifying clean energy projects located or implemented in their area may be able to participate in emission rate credit and emission allowance trading markets.

Further, EPA finalized CO2 emission guidelines for four electric generating units (EGUs) located on tribal lands: the South Point Energy Center on the Fort Mojave Reservation, the Navajo Generating Station and the Four Corners Power Plant on the Navajo Indian Reservation, and the Bonanza Power Plant on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation.

The tribes with affected EGUs located on their tribal lands may, but are not obligated to, seek “Treatment as States” (TAS) and apply for eligibility to develop and implement tribal implementation plans (TIP).  Alternatively, EPA may itself directly implement the emission guidelines if it makes a finding that is “necessary or appropriate” to do so.  In the Proposed Federal Plan and Model Trading Rules, EPA has proposed to make such a finding.  Its grounds for so doing are that the affected EGUs

are in an area of Indian country located within the continental United States, are interconnected with the western electricity grid, and are owned and operated by entities that generate and provide electricity to customers in several states.

While EPA is proposing to implement a federal plan for the affected EGUs, it has stated that this proposal does not preclude tribes from seeking TAS to either develop a tribal plan or to receive delegated authority to administer all or portions of the federal plan.  Comments on the Proposed Federal Plan are currently due on January 21, 2016, but this date may change as EPA has not yet acted on the Navajo Nation’s request for a 60-day extension of time on the comment period.

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