When President Obama released the final Clean Power Plan today, it included a number of changes from the proposal that EPA put forth in the federal register in 2014. One of those changes was the inclusion of a requirement that states provide low-income community efficiency and clean energy programming and ensure "meaningful engagement" of low-income communities during the development of the plan. Both very welcome requirements were at the center of the recommendations filed with EPA by NCAF, National Consumer Law Center and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy. Our allies at Consumers Union, WE ACT and Sierra Club included recommendations mirroring ours in their testimonies.
What does this plan mean for the Community Action and Weatherization networks and our advocacy partners? It means there is an opportunity for your state's strategy to include high-impact clean energy and efficiency programs for your communities as well as bill protections for vulnerable consumers. This requirement also allows for new connections between our network and the state Clean Air Regulatory agencies. The rule inherently includes the programs and policies in which our network are experts, and energizes connections between Community Action and environmental justice groups.
State plans are due September 6, 2016. NCAF will be working with our partners to provide you with resources that explain the process and the key elements of the plan. The EPA has not provided details of the ways states must demonstrate genuine participation, and we expect to offer a lot of ideas to them, especially about state support for the costs of engaging in the intense plan development process.
Excerpt of the EPA summary of the Final Rule:
"...To ensure opportunities for communities - particularly low-income communities, minority communities and tribal communities - to continue to participate in decision making, EPA is requiring that states demonstrate how they are actively engaging with communities as part of their public participation process in the formulation of state plans.
The requirement for meaningful engagement within state plans will provide an avenue for all communities to both hear from the state about strategies that might work best to tackle climate pollution, and to provide input on where possible impacts to low-income communities, minority communities, and tribal communities could occur along with strategies to mitigate those impacts."
Excerpt of part 3 of NCAF-NCLC-OPAE comment to EPA:
"[The final rule must require] A Demonstration That the State Has Conducted An Inclusive Planning Process During CPP Development
States must demonstrate that they have engaged representatives of low-income energy consumers and disadvantaged communities at all periods and levels of plan development. EPA should accept as evidence of a sound process the following three elements, and provide a far more deliberate review and analysis of plans that were not developed under such a process:
a. The legitimacy, expertise and constituencies of the participating groups;
b. The state resources provided for the participation of disadvantaged groups - such as intervener funding at state commissions, and grants and/or in kind support for planning, analysis and participation; and,
c. Inclusive rules for participation in planning at each phase of plan development."