EPA Proposes Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants

Today, June 2, 2014, US EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, signed the notice “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.” EPA’s new Clean Power Plan proposal is the agency’s first effort to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Power plants account for approximately one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. EPA claims that its new Clean Power Plan proposal will help cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated:

“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life.  EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source–power plants. . . . By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment–our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs.”

EPA claims that the proposal will result in the following benefits by 2030:

  • Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year;
  • Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
  • Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits; and
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

The Clean Power Plan will be implemented through a state-federal partnership under which states develop plans to meet state-specific goals to reduce carbon pollution. The plan allows states to develop individual plans or to work together with other states to develop multi-state plans. Under today’s proposal, plans are due to the agency in June 2016, with an option for an extension.

According to EPA, currently, 47 states have utilities that run demand-side energy efficiency programs, 38 have renewable portfolio standards or goals, and 10 have market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs.

EPA will accept comments on the proposal for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold four public hearings on the proposed Clean Power Plan during the week of July 28 in the following cities: Denver, Atlanta, Washington, DC and Pittsburgh.  Based on this input, EPA will finalize standards in June 2015, following the schedule laid out in the June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.

Fact sheets and details about the proposed rule available here. More information on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan is available here. Additionally, today at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will deliver remarks on the steps EPA is taking under the Clean Air Act to carry out President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. The remarks will be live-streamed at epa.gov 

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