On Wednesday, EPA announced a relatively unsurprising move with respect to its trio of rules designed to reduce power plant emissions of greenhouse gases—a delay.  Instead of early June, EPA says to expect the final rules (all three of them) at the ambiguous time of “summer,” which theoretically could extend into September.

While EPA rulemaking delays are common, this one is remarkable for three reasons.  First, it violates a direct command of the Clean Air Act to finalize new source standards of the type EPA has proposed within one year of publication.  Since its new source proposal was published last year on January 8th, that rule should be finalized today, but EPA has now indicated it will be more than six months late.  Second, the delay appears to contradict an order from the President, whose Climate Action Plan directs EPA to stick to a tight schedule to ensure the rules will be completed within the current administration (and avoid risks of a policy reversal if the project remains incomplete when the next President takes office).

Third, and perhaps most interestingly, EPA says it will propose a model “Federal Implementation Plan,” which EPA will threaten to impose on any states that refuse or fail to submit a timely and approvable state plan to implement EPA’s climate change program.  Many commenters on EPA’s proposed rule have questioned whether EPA will have the authority to impose a federal plan capable of achieving its emission reduction goals.  EPA’s announcement yesterday promises an answer to that question this “summer.”

The new rulemaking schedule is summarized in a fact sheet released by EPA.  For more information on EPA’s climate change rules, please contact the authors of this post.