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As one of the most profound rules affecting power generation in decades slowly works its way through the rule-making process with public hearings starting today, there are questions as to whether anyone at US EPA is actually listening. Quoted in a recent article, Administrator Gina McCarthy said "I hate to say I told you so, but I have said this before: We're hearing the argument that common sense EPA actions are bad for the economy.” She went on to elaborate further, saying, “[s]ince EPA has existed, we've cut air pollution by more than 70% while the GDP has tripled,” and that "[y]ou don't have to sacrifice a healthy economy for a healthy environment."

It is no surprise, though, that industry groups, utilities and others have grave concern about the impact of Rule 111(d). American Electric Power CEO Nick Akins was quoted as saying that the rule could end up being a “convoluted mess” because the timing, scope, and impact of changes required to comply with the proposed rule are not fully appreciated or accounted for by US EPA. The Partnership for a Better Energy Future also disagrees with Administrator McCarthy’s perspective and warns that the proposed rule will do little to actually reduce carbon, harm the US economy and “stifle innovation.”

The first public hearings begin today and continue through tomorrow in Atlanta, Denver, and Washington DC. The final hearings are scheduled for July 31 and August 1 in Pittsburgh. Click here for detail on the EPA website.

The EPA has received more than 300,000 comments so far on the proposed rule. The cut off date for comments is October 16, 2014. Some groups have already begun requesting the comment period be extended in order to accommodate the complex nature of the proposed rule, but EPA has indicated that no extension is likely.  It appears that regardless of the volume of comments and potential issues with the proposed rule, the June 2015 date for issuance of a final rule is paramount. Interested parties should file comments as soon as possible.

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