by Matthew Rose, Enerdynamics Instructor
This week and in the weeks ahead, Energy Currents is taking a close look at the Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) Clean Power Plan proposal that was released on June 2, 2014. This week’s post looks at the plan’s main objectives and the process it faces in the months (or years) ahead. In future posts, we’ll look at the specific approach the EPA is proposing to meet such objectives; some vague areas within the current plan that need further clarification; and the implications if and when the plan comes to fruition.
If implemented, the Clean Power Plan will, for the first time ever, federally regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. The plan is designed to cut carbon pollution from power plants nationwide by 30 percent from 2005 levels.
More specifically, the proposed plan is designed to address the following:
- Create state-by-state carbon emissions goals: These goals are defined in terms of pounds of emissions per MWh of output and are based on each state’s historic generation mix. Thus goals for states with higher historic levels of carbon-based generation are set at less stringent levels than those for other states.
- Define a “pathway” for each state to develop plans to achieve the goals: Rather than defining power plant-specific regulations or mandating how states must achieve their goals, the EPA-proposed process is designed to be flexible to allow each state to develop its own program. States may develop their own individual plans or may work together to develop regional multi-state plans.
A 120-day public comment period began once the plan’s rules were published, and EPA began holding public hearings in Atlanta, Ga., Denver, Colo., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Washington, D.C. Affected parties are expected to submit comments to the plan during this period in order to preserve arguments for potential litigation.
The plan is expected to be finalized by June 1, 2015. This date assumes there are no challenges associated with its rules. Note that any legal challenges can only be advanced after the ruling is finalized, suggesting there may be a protracted process before any plan is finalized and implemented.