Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.
With the Clean Power Plan, the EPA claims its proposed guidelines that build on trends already under way in states and the power sector to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, making them more efficient and less polluting. By 2030, the EPA believes its plan will:
- Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30% nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the U.S. for one year;
- Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25% 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% 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 identify a path forward using either current or new electricity production and pollution control policies to meet the goals of the proposed program. The proposal provides guidelines for states to develop plans to meet state-specific goals to reduce carbon pollution and gives them the flexibility to design a program that makes the most sense for them.
States can choose the right mix of generation using diverse fuels, energy efficiency and demand-side management to meet the goals and their own needs. It allows them to work alone to develop individual plans or to work together with other states to develop multi-state plans.
Also included in the proposal is a flexible timeline for states to follow for submitting plans to the agency—with plans due in June 2016, with the option to use a two-step process for submitting final plans if more time is needed.
These rules are another step by the administration to take us to a more expensive and less secure energy future, explained Hal Quinn, president and CEO, National Mining Association. They embody unrealistic measures that move America’s electric grid away from the low cost and reliable power our economy needs to grow.
“These regulations, if finalized, would be a loss for American consumers, manufacturers and businesses nationwide, but especially for those in states that rely on low-cost electricity from coal,” Quinn said. “Also on the losing end are middle-class and lower-income Americans and retirees on fixed incomes who will bear the brunt of higher power bills and lower economic growth that follow from putting the country on a fixed energy budget.”
“There’s no doubt that EPA’s approach will raise the cost of electricity for consumers while further imperiling the reliability of the electric grid. EPA’s previous power plant rules have pushed our nation’s electric grid close to the edge of breaking, as we saw this past winter, and this new rule could finally break it,” Quinn said. “This is a major gamble that America cannot afford to make.”