Select Federal Statutes and Regulation Updates

In developing its regional power plan, the Council must consider and incorporate environmental effects associated with the power system into its analysis and development of a resource strategy. Pursuant to Section 2 of the Act, one purpose of the Act is to encourage, in a manner consistent with applicable environmental laws and through the unique opportunity provided by the Federal Columbia River Power System, conservation and efficiency in the use of electric power and the development of renewable resources to assure the Pacific Northwest an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply. Another purpose detailed under Section 2 of the Act is to provide for the participation and consultation of the Pacific Northwest States, local governments, consumers, customers, users of the Columbia River System, and the public at large in providing environmental quality. More specifically, Section 4(e)(2) of the Act requires that the Council set forth a scheme for implementing conservation measures and developing resources with due consideration by the Council for, among other things, environmental quality, compatibility with the existing regional power system, and protection, mitigation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife. In addition, Section 4(e)(3)(C) requires the Council include as an element of the power plan a methodology for determining quantifiable environmental costs and benefits of new resources, and the Council’s planning assumes all generating and conservation resources will meet existing federal, state, tribal, and local environmental regulations. Thus, the estimated costs of compliance with existing regulations is a primary component of the Council’s methodology for determining quantifiable environmental costs and benefits, and, when quantifiable, these costs are included as part of the total system cost of new resources. Therefore, to inform that analysis, this section provides a high-level overview of the primary federal statutes that arise when considering the environmental impacts of resources and the regulation thereof. This section also provides high-level status overview of several recent federal regulations, which, at the moment present a regulatory backdrop in flux given the number of environmental regulations proposed and issued during the last presidential Administration, the legal challenges to those regulations, and the early executive orders and agenda of the new administration regarding the environment and climate change—all of which spanned the development of this power plan.

Beyond the federal regulations, state and local policies are also be considered in the Council’s analysis, and this includes, for example, state-level renewable portfolio standards and state and local-level clean policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. See analysis for details on the state and local policies captured in the Council’s analysis. Consideration of these policies has a significant impact on resource dispatch, development, and the Council’s regional resource strategy development.

For related analyses, see existing and new power system resources, conservation resources, demand response, and environmental effects. In addition, see details on the Council’s development of the methodology for determining quantifiable environmental costs and benefits pursuant to Section 4(e)(3)(C) of the Act and related section in the power plan, which includes a description of how the Council gave due consideration to environmental quality along with the other factors consistent with the requirements of Section 4(e)(2).