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Posted: October 10, 2017

What is the Clean Power Plan and why is Trump killing it?

In this Sept. 8, 2015 photo, a natural gas rig pumps away in the foreground of the coal-fired Huntington Power Plant west of Huntington, Utah. A 20-year plan by Utah's largest electricity provider stipulating that it will not add pollution-control systems to its coal power plants has received criticism from some in the state who say the proposal may violate a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirement and get in the way of the federal push to curb regional haze, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. (Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune
In this Sept. 8, 2015 photo, a natural gas rig pumps away in the foreground of the coal-fired Huntington Power Plant west of Huntington, Utah. A 20-year plan by Utah's largest electricity provider stipulating that it will not add pollution-control systems to its coal power plants has received criticism from some in the state who say the proposal may violate a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirement and get in the way of the federal push to curb regional haze, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. (Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

By Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it will repeal the Clean Power Plan, a strategy that President Barack Obama implemented to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt announced Tuesday the administration’s plan to issue a new set of rules overriding the CPP, The Associated Press reported.

“The war on coal is over,” Pruitt said Monday in an address, adding that no federal agency should ever use its authority to “declare war on any sector of our economy.”
It was not immediately clear if Pruitt would seek to issue a new rule without congressional approval, the AP reported. Pruitt’s rule wouldn’t become final for several months.

The administration plans to argue that the CPP went beyond the bounds of federal law, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News which first reported the story.

Bloomberg reported that the EPA will soon ask the public for suggestions on how to curb carbon dioxide emissions from coal and natural gas power plants.

What is the CPP and what was it supposed to do? Here, from the EPA fact sheet, is a look at the plan.

What is the Clean Power Plan?

  • The Clean Power Plan will reduce carbon pollution from power plants, the nation’s largest source while maintaining energy reliability and affordability. 
  • These are the first-ever national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants.
  • The Clean Power Plan cuts significant amounts of power plant carbon pollution and the pollutants that cause the soot and smog that harm health while advancing clean energy innovation, development, and deployment, and laying the foundation for the long-term strategy needed to tackle the threat of climate change. By providing states and utilities ample flexibility and the time needed to achieve these pollution cuts, the Clean Power Plan offers the power sector the ability to optimize pollution reductions while maintaining a reliable and affordable supply of electricity for ratepayers and businesses.
  • Fossil fuels will continue to be a critical component of America’s energy future. The Clean Power Plan simply makes sure that fossil fuel-fired power plants will operate more cleanly and efficiently while expanding the capacity for zero- and low-emitting power sources.
  • The final rule is the result of unprecedented outreach to states, tribes, utilities, stakeholders and the public, including more than 4.3 million comments EPA received on the proposed rule. The final Clean Power Plan reflects that input and gives states and utilities time to preserve ample, reliable and affordable power for all Americans.

How does the Clean Power Plan work

  • The Clean Air Act – under section 111(d) – creates a partnership between EPA, states, tribes and U.S. territories – with EPA setting a goal and states and tribes choosing how they will meet it.
  • The final Clean Power Plan follows that approach. EPA is establishing interim and final carbon dioxide (CO2) emission performance rates for two subcategories of fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs):
  • Fossil fuel-fired electric steam generating units (generally, coal- and oil-fired power plants)
  • Natural gas-fired combined cycle generating units
  • To maximize the range of choices available to states in implementing the standards and to utilities in meeting them, EPA is establishing interim and final statewide goals in three forms:
  • A rate-based state goal measured in pounds per megawatt hour (lb/MWh);
  • A mass-based state goal measured in total short tons of CO2;
  • A mass-based state goal with a new source complement measured in total short tons of CO2.
  • States then develop and implement plans that ensure that the power plants in their state – either individually, together or in combination with other measures – achieve the interim CO2 emissions performance rates over the period of 2022 to 2029 and the final CO2 emission performance rates, rate-based goals or mass-based goals by 2030.
  • These final guidelines are consistent with the law and align with the approach that Congress and EPA have always taken to regulate emissions from this and all other industrial sectors – setting source-level, source category-wide standards that sources can meet through a variety of technologies and measures.

State Plans

  • The final Clean Power Plan provides guidelines for the development, submittal, and implementation of state plans that establish standards of performance or other measures for affected EGUs in order to implement the interim and final CO2 emission performance rates.
  • States must develop and implement plans that ensure the power plants in their state – either individually, together, or in combination with other measures – achieve the equivalent, in terms of either or rate or mass, of the interim CO2 performance rates between 2022 and 2029, and the final CO2 emission performance rates for their state by 2030.
  • States may choose between two plan types to meet their goals:
  • Emission standards plan – includes source-specific requirements ensuring all affected power plants within the state meet their required emissions performance rates or state-specific rate-based or mass-based goal.
  • State measures plan – includes a mixture of measures implemented by the state, such as renewable energy standards and programs to improve residential energy efficiency that is not included as federally enforceable components of the plan. The plan may also include federally enforceable source-specific requirements. The state measures, alone or in conjunction with federally enforceable requirements, must result in affected power plants meeting the state’s mass-based goal. The plan must also include a backstop of federally enforceable standards on affected power plants that fully meet the emission guidelines and that would be triggered if the state measures fail to result in the affected plants achieving the required emissions reductions on schedule.  
  • In developing its plan, each state will have the flexibility to select the measures it prefers in order to achieve the CO2 emission performance rates for its affected plants or meet the equivalent statewide rate- or mass-based CO2 goal. States will also have the ability to shape their own emissions reduction pathways over the 2022-29 period.
  • The final rule also gives states the option to work with other states on multi-state approaches, including emissions trading, that allow their power plants to integrate their interconnected operations within their operating systems and their opportunities to address carbon pollution.

Click here to read the entire Clean Power Plan.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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