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EPA Announces New Clean Power Plan

Posted on 8/3/2015 by Roger Marks

Update 02/10/16: On February 9, the US Supreme Court issued a stay on EPA's Clean Power Plan in a 5–4 decision. 

The US Environmental Prot from electricity-generating unection Agency (EPA) has announced a finalized Clean Power Plan to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissionsits (power plants), or EGUs, under the Clean Air Act §111(d). The new EPA rulemaking addresses CO2, which accounts for 82% of US GHG emissions. The plan aims to lower carbon pollution from the power sector by 32 percent by 2030.

According to EPA’s Final Rule, made public on August 3, 2015, the new regulations focus on setting state-specific rate-based emissions limit for GHGs. In the rulemaking, EPA puts forth strategies already in use by states and companies nationwide to lower GHG emissions from existing power plants and:
  • Improve efficiency at carbon-intensive power plants,
  • Enhance generation from low emitting and renewable power sources, and
  • Help homes and businesses use electricity more efficiently.
EPA clean power plan affects emissions from electricity plants

The Building Blocks of Lower CO2 Emissions

In the Final Rule, EPA provided three main criteria, called “building blocks,” to help State officials select a best system of emission reduction, or BSER:

1. Reducing the carbon intensity of generation at individual affected EGUs through heat rate improvements.

2. Substituting increased generation from lower emitting existing natural gas combined cycle units for reduced generation from higher-emitting affected steam generating units.

3. Substituting increased generation from new zero emitting renewable energy generating capacity for reduced generation from affected fossil fuel-fired generating units.

What’s Next for Power Plants?

State attorneys general have already promised to file suit against EPA, stating that new clean power regulations are an overreach under the Clean Air Act. This approach has yielded some success already this year: In late June, the Supreme Court decided against EPA’s 2012 rules to limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants emitted from coal-fired power plants in the case Michigan v. EPA.

The new Federal clean power regulations delegate responsibility to each state to design and implement its own program for reducing CO2 emissions. Each state must submit a plan that, in part, identifies all affected entities in the state and describes the state’s plan to set, enforce, and report progress of CO2 emissions limits.

New CO2 Limits Implementation Schedule

Summer 2016—Proposed due date for states to submit compliance plans to EPA. These may be complete plans or partial plans with a request for a 1- or 2-year extension.

Summer 2017—Due date for State compliance plans that received 1-year extension.

Summer 2018—Due date for State compliance plans that received 2-year extension.

January 1, 2022—State will be required to compare emission performance achieved by affected EGUs in the state with the emissions performance projected in the State plan and report to EPA.

Summer 2022—Proposed beginning of phase-in period for mandatory compliance with New Clean Power Plan emissions limits and regulations.

Read the full Final Rule, posted today, here. 

For more information on EPA’s Clean Power Plan, read the EPA Fact Sheet here.

New Clean Air Act Regulations Now Available
A new online course is now available to help environmental engineers, EHS managers, and compliance officers keep their facilities in compliance with the US EPA’s Clean Air Act programs. The Clean Air Act Regulations guides professionals through compliance with Title V permit requirements, emissions and pollution controls, annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting, Risk Management Planning (RMP) responsibilities, and more. 

Build the expertise needed to make informed on-the-job decisions that help your site control pollution and maintain compliance. Interactive, easy to use, and available 24/7, the new online course will help you get up to speed with new and changing EPA clean air rules and protect your facility from costly EPA enforcement. 

Tags: Clean Air Act, EPA, new rules

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