EPA Clean Power PlanAccording to the EPA, its proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) would lead to a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions from the power sector by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The CPP sets a customized goal for each state, which takes into account its existing policies and the unique structure of its energy system. The current draft regulation gives states interim goals for 2020-29, and a final target for 2030. The EPA proposal offers a great deal of flexibility for states to choose how best to achieve these emissions reduction goals. The CPP suggests four “building blocks” that states can use to achieve reductions, although other compliance strategies are also on the table. The building blocks are:

1) Improving the efficiency of fossil fuel power plants;
2) Switching to plants that emit less carbon, such as natural gas combined cycle plants;
3) Installing zero-emission plants powered by renewable or nuclear energy;
4) Increasing end-use energy efficiency (for example, installing high efficiency lighting in buildings).

EPA received nearly 4 million comments on the proposed CPP and has signaled it will adjust the final rule based on this feedback.

Though EPA’s rules have yet to be finalized, several parties have already vowed to launch legal challenges against it. In landmark 2007 and 2014 decisions, the Supreme Court found that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources and most stationary sources under Title II of the Clean Air Act. The CPP is based on a different part of the Act, namely section 111(d) relating to Existing Source Performance Standards.

EPA estimates its rule will offer public health and climate benefits of $55 to $93 billion annually by 2030, while costing $7.3 to $8.8 billion per year. Reducing carbon emissions will lower exposure to particle pollution and ozone, thereby preventing 140,000 to 150,000 cases of asthma in children and 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths by 2030. Overall, the EPA says for every dollar invested in this rule, there will be a $7 return in health benefits.

On Wednesday, April 8th, 2015, The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will host a briefing, “EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Will it Work and Will it Be Upheld?” in the Rayburn House Office Building.