Grandfathering Coal: Power Plant Regulation under the CAA

January 27, 2016 11:00 am — 12:30 pm
Washington, DC (and via webinar)

An ELI Public Seminar

In their forthcoming book, Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the “War on Coal”, Richard L. Revesz and Jack Lienke detail the history of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the political compromises that led to exempting existing power plants, many of which are coal-fired, from significant portions of the CAA’s regulatory authority. Revesz and Lienke explain that the ambitious goal of the Clean Air Act to eliminate air pollution that posed a threat to public health fell short due to “grandfathering” existing facilities, which disincentivizes utilities from updating existing power plants or constructing new ones.

The authors examine attempts by the executive branch to address impacts of the CAA’s “grandfathering,” including the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Coal proponents claim these efforts aim to significantly reduce coal’s share of the electricity market, leading some to accuse the Administration of facilitating a “War on Coal.” But does the reality live up to the critics’ fears? Revesz and Lienke wrestle with the possibilities and limitations of the Clean Power Plan as the newest attempt to clean up emissions from older facilities.

ELI's expert panel discussed the environmental implications of the Clean Power Plan and the ramifications of grandfathering. Professor Revesz and other experts in the field discussed to what degree the Clean Power Plan really reduces pollution, and the interaction between grandfathering and pollution reduction.

Richard L. Revesz,
Lawrence King Professor of Law, Dean Emeritus NYU Law (facilitator)
William M.  Bumpers, Partner, Baker Botts LLP
David Doniger, Director, Climate & Clean Air Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
Jack Lienke, Senior Attorney, Institute for Policy Integrity, NYU Law
William Rosenberg, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air & Radiation, US EPA, (1989- 1992)

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