On 3 August president Obama announced the US government's latest Clean Power Plan - 'an historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change'.
On 3 August this year the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency issued a suite of rules regulating the emission of carbon dioxide from new, modified and reconstructed, and existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs) under section 111 of the Clean Air Act.
On the same day, in a White House speech, president Obama announced the publication of the US government’s Clean Power Plan, effectively the policy framework for the Rules as applicable state-by-state, describing it as ‘an historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change’. He further emphasised that these rules build on previous US climate policies, and are consistent with the targets his administration has set as part of the international climate talks.
The Plan is aimed primarily at carbon dioxide pollution. If it works, then by 2030 when it is fully in place carbon pollution from the power sector will be 32% below 2005 levels.
The announcement characterises the Plan as shaped by years of unprecedented outreach and public engagement, resulting in a fair and flexible piece of rule-making designed to ‘strengthen the fast-growing trend toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy’. It includes ‘strong but achievable’ standards for power plants, and customised goals for states to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change. It is aimed at providing national consistency, accountability and a level playing field while reflecting each state’s energy mix. It is also intended to show the world that the United States is committed to leading global efforts to address climate change.
Analyst Van Ness Feldmann has published a technical alert that summarises the EPA’s Rules. They include (1) a final rule under section 111(b) of the CAA setting emission standards for new EGUs, to be set on the basis of the ‘partial’ application of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) for coal-fired EGUs; (2) in the same rule, emission standards for modified and reconstructed EGUs, which are not based on CCS for coal-fired EGUs; and (3) the final ‘Clean Power Plan,’ a rule under section 111(d) of the Act that establishes state-by-state carbon dioxide emission reduction goals starting in 2022, and directs each state to submit for EPA approval a plan demonstrating how the state’s affected EGUs will meet its reduction goals. In addition, EPA released a proposed federal plan, which would establish unit-by-unit emission reduction obligations for affected EGUs in a state that did not submit an approvable state plan. The proposed federal plan also includes presumptively approvable model trading frameworks for states submitting their own plans. The pre-Federal Register versions of these rules run to over 3000 pages, and EPA has issued hundreds of pages of supporting Technical Support Documents.
While many features of the final rules have changed since they were proposed, the overall structure remains largely the same. Overall, EPA projects that the suite of rules will result in power sector emission reductions of 32% from 2005 levels by the year 2030.
The final Rule and overview documents can be downloaded from:
The Van Ness Feldman alert can be found at: