The Montana Public Service Commission filed comments with the Federal Environmental Protection Agency in support of the newly proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. Introduced in August, the plan replaces the Obama administration’s “Clean Power Plan,” which was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. The EPA set a deadline for public comment of October 31.
“America needs an all of the above energy strategy,” said Brad Johnson, (R-East Helena) Chairman of the Public Service Commission, who voted in favor of making the public comments. “The Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan didn’t give enough flexibility to states like Montana. However, the Trump Administration, with their Affordable Clean Energy Plan, clearly heard our concerns and responded. This is a good plan to reduce emissions without sandbagging our economy. Our comments reflect that.”
First developed by the EPA in 2014 and finalized by former President Barack Obama in 2015, the original Clean Power Plan established emission standards and other regulations for electric generating units. The Montana Public Service Commission filed public comments opposing the plan in 2014. In addition to opposing the entire plan overall for lack of jurisdiction, the Commission identified four general areas of criticism of the plan. In the vote today, the Commissioners felt that those concerns had been addressed.
Citing the plan’s costs and excessive federal control over states, Commissioners Tony O’Donnell (R-Billings) and Roger Koopman (R-Bozeman) voted against making public comment, O’Donnell criticized the need for an emissions reduction rule at all. “There is no crisis,” he said. Nevertheless, Commissioners O’Donnell and Koopman both said the plan represented an improvement over the Obama Administration’s plan.
Also voting to file public comments were Commissioners Bob Lake and Travis Kavulla.