Weekly Compliance Digest – EPA Clean Power Plan
U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan (40 CFR Parts 60, 62, and 78)
What is it?
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power generation, as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to fight global warming and climate change. Power plants are the largest source of GHGs in the U.S. The federal plan implements greenhouse gas (GHG) emission guidelines for existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs) under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The plan was proposed in June 2014, finalized on August 3, 2015, and published in the Federal Register on October 23, 2015.
Who is affected?
Electric utility generating units constructed on or before January 8, 2014, including:
- Fossil fuel-fired electric steam generating units (generally, coal- and oil-fired power plants)
- Natural gas-fired combined cycle generating units
What are the requirements?
Existing power plants must cut carbon emissions by 32% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The plan for the 2030 targets will be implemented in a phased approach. Individual states have been assigned specific emissions goals based on their current energy consumption mix, and have flexibility in how they meet the goals. States have until September 6, 2016 (or upon making an initial submittal, until September 6, 2018) to submit plans, and must comply by 2022.
What is next?
Comments can be received on of before January 21, 2016. But the new rule is already being challenged in court by 24 states, as well as by more than 20 businesses and industry organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are seeking to block the Clean Power Plan under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to block executive actions with majority votes. However, if the measure passes, opponents of the plan are unlikely to gather two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate to override an expected veto by President Obama. Therefore the legal challenge is the only serious one.
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