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Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule

June 3, 2014

On June 2, 2014, the EPA released the Clean Power Plan, a proposed rule to combat carbon dioxide pollution. The main goal of the plan is to set a national carbon pollution standard that will cut emissions produced by United States power plants by thirty percent from 2005 levels. If this cut is successful, the EPA estimates resulting net climate and health benefits of $55 billion to $93 billion.

According to the EPA, the plan follows a flexible approach that will build on state efforts to reduce carbon dioxide pollution. State efforts were assessed through stakeholder input before the plan was released in order to inform the EPA of the plans already in place. Through this assessment, the EPA has identified four sets of measures in use by many states that together make what the EPA feels to be the best system for reducing carbon pollution. These include: making fossil fuel power plants more efficient, using low-emitting power sources more often, using more zero and low-emitting power sources by expanding renewable sources, and using electricity more efficiently.

Under the proposed rule state-specific emission goals will be set according to a rate formula that compares CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants to power plants containing low or zero-emitting power sources. Although states can choose to rely on the four measures set by the EPA to meet this goal, the states themselves will ultimately decide the means to use. The complete state plans, once submitted, will be reviewed by the EPA for approval.

After the proposed Clean Power Plan is finalized, states will have until June 2016 to submit final plans, although extensions may be allotted if needed. States can develop individual plans, or they can collaborate with other states. The states will decide when and how individual power plants are to reduce their emissions. The Clean Power Plan outlines some measures which the states can use but are not required to implement. These measures include: renewable energy standards, efficiency improvements at plants, switching to natural gas, transmission efficiency improvements, energy storage technology, and expanding renewables or nuclear, and energy conservation programs.

The EPA will be accepting comments on the proposal for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, which will happen within the next few weeks. Four public hearings will be held during the week of July 28 in Denver, Atlanta, Washington DC and Pittsburgh.

Information on the Clean Power Plan including how to submit comments can be found here:

Article by: Kelli Blomberg, CLERR Summer Intern

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