The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received over 1.6 million comments on its proposed Clean Power Plan before the agency's Dec. 1 deadline.
In June, the EPA released the plan, which aims to regulate carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants for the first time. The agency decided in September to extend its public comment period by 45 days, citing a strong amount of interest.
According to Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, that interest continued to grow.
In a Dec. 1 blog post, McCabe wrote, ‘Since June, we've met with well over 300 groups and received more than 1.6 million comments; and that's not counting the hundreds of thousands of comments that came in last week and those that are coming in today. Each commenter has something important to say, and we are listening to each and every one of them.’
However, McCabe acknowledges that reactions to the Clean Power Plan have been mixed.
"We've heard from people who support EPA moving forward with the Clean Power Plan and people who don't," she explained in her blog. "We've heard support for the flexibility the proposal provides to states to develop plans that meet the needs for their residents and businesses. We've heard that the carbon reduction targets we proposed are too tough, and we've heard that they're not tough enough. And much, much more.
"What we know for sure," she continued, "is that people care about this issue, and we know we have a lot to consider as we work toward a final rule."
The EPA is slated to finalize its Clean Power Plan by June 2015.
Renewable energy stakeholders have been strong, outspoken supporters of the EPA's plan, as many believe the power plant rules could help boost the renewables industry. In fact, the American Wind Energy Association has said Clean Power Plan could be the third largest driver of U.S. wind power behind state renewable portfolio standards and the federal production tax credit.