Detailed Summary of the EPA's Proposed Rule to Limit Carbon Pollution from the Power Sector

June 13, 2014

This document provides a summary of EPA’s recently proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants.  It contains a particular focus on elements of the proposal that may be of interest to the states.

Click here to download the full summary.

The proposed rule sets individual rate-based carbon intensity goals for each state based on a state’s mix of energy sources and opportunities to achieve reductions. EPA proposes to allow states to convert the rate-based goal established by EPA to a mass-based emissions budget, discusses a method to translate to a mass-based goal, and seeks comments on translation approaches.

EPA calculated the goals by taking into account four categories of potential emission reductions, or “building blocks,” which taken together represent the best system of emission reduction (BSER):

  • heat rate improvement at fossil fuel power plants;
  • shifting dispatch from coal-, oil-, and natural gas-fired steam generation to less carbon intensive combined cycle natural gas generation;
  • increasing renewable and nuclear generation and avoiding retirement of existing nuclear units; and
  • increasing demand-side energy efficiency.

The proposal would require states to meet an interim goal as an average over the ten-year period from 2020 to 2029 on the way to meeting a final, more stringent goal in 2030. States can meet their goals through a flexible combination of measures, including energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, and states can choose to collaborate and develop plans on a multi-state basis, and are allowed additional time to do so.

EPA notes that states may build upon their existing programs, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Colorado’s Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, and California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, as the basis for compliance.

All states will be required to submit at least an initial plan for compliance by June 30, 2016. States that need additional time to submit a final plan may request an additional year, while states participating in a multi-state program may have an additional two years to submit either separate plans or one joint plan.

EPA also issued a Notice of Data Availability in October 2014, providing additional information about the proposed rule and soliciting comment on three topic areas: the glide path for state emission-reduction goals from 2020 to 2029; aspects of the building block methodologies used to establish state goals relating to natural gas generation and renewable energy; and issues relating to the base year used in the state goal formula and the methodology for calculating state goals. The Georgetown Climate Center prepared a separate summary of the NODA, which is available here.

GCC_111dProposal_KeyIssuesforStates_June2014.pdf