carbon pollution standard

Carbon Pollution Standards

Carbon Pollution Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued final rules in August 2015 to limit carbon pollution from existing and new power plants. Electric power generation accounts for 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions, making it the largest source. 

Reducing power sector emissions is a key part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. In addition, the U.S. contribution to the upcoming international climate agreement in Paris sets an economy-wide target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Under the Clean Power Plan for existing power plants, each state has its own target (due to regional variation in generation mix and electricity consumption). Overall, the rule is designed to cut emissions 32 percent from 2005 emission levels by 2030.

EPA's “Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants” finalizes a standard first proposed in March 2012 that was modified and proposed again in September 2013. States would apply the standards for new coal- and natural gas-fired plants (measured as tons of greenhouse gas emissions per megawatt-hour of elec­tricity produced) at each regulated plant.

Explore the issues and options involved in reducing carbon pollution from power plants through the following resources:

C2ES Resources

Additional Resources

 

Carbon Pollution Standards Map

This map is based on data from the Clean Power Plan as proposed in June 2014. C2ES will update the map based on the final Clean Power Plan in the coming days.


In its proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector, EPA has set a unique target emissions rate for each state to hit by 2030. To develop this target, EPA first determined a carbon emissions baseline (using 2012 data) based on each state’s level of CO2 emissions from fossil-fired power plants divided by its total electricity generation (including fossil-fired generation, renewable generation, and nuclear generation). Targets for 2030 were then established based on the capacity of each state to achieve reductions using the following four “building blocks” identified by EPA:

  1. Make coal-fired power plants more efficient;
  2. Use low-emitting natural gas combined cycle plants more where excess capacity is available;
  3. Use more zero- and low-emitting power sources such as renewables and nuclear; and
  4. Reduce electricity demand by using electricity more efficiently.

Since there is a wide variation among states in both emissions baseline and capacity to leverage each of the four building blocks, there is a wide variation in how much each state must cut from current emissions to hit its 2030 target emissions rate. (See Table 1.)

Each state can meet its established target however it sees fit, and does not need to leverage each building block to the extent that EPA projects. States will be able to convert their target emissions rate (pounds CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity generated) to a mass-based standard (tons of CO2 emitted per year) to enable a cap-and-trade program. States are also free to join together and work toward an aggregated regional target.

Table 1: Building Block Reduction by State

StateEmissions Rate of Power System, including zero-carbon generation (lbs CO2 / MWh) (2012 Block 1 (Coal-plant Efficiency) Adding Block 2 (Natural Gas Fuel Switching) Adding Block 3 (Renewable and Nuclear Generation) Final Target by Adding Block 4 (Demand-side Energy Efficiency) Total Emissions Reduction Target by 2030
Washington75672844429821571.6%
Arizona1453139484381470251.7%
South Carolina15871506134286677251.4%
Oregon71770156545237248.1%
New Hampshire90588771053248646.3%
Georgia15001433121692683444.4%
Arkansas16341554105899691044.3%
New York97897082865254943.9%
New Jersey92891681161653142.8%
Minnesota*14701389999104287340.6%
North Carolina164715601248112599239.8%
Louisiana14551404104397888339.3%
Tennessee1903179716981322116338.9%
Texas1284123597986179138.4%
Florida1199116988281274038.3%
Virginia13021258104789481037.8%
Massachusetts92591581966157637.7%
Mississippi1093107180975269236.7%
Maryland1870177217221394118736.5%
Oklahoma13871334105396489535.5%
Colorado1714162113341222110835.4%
South Dakota*1135106773290074134.7%
Nevada98897079972064734.5%
Wisconsin1827172814871379120334.2%
New Mexico1586151312771163104833.9%
Illinois1894178416141476127132.9%
Idaho33933933929122832.7%
Delaware1234121199689284131.8%
Michigan1690160314081339116131.3%
Pennsylvania1531145813931157105231.3%
Connecticut76576473364354029.4%
Ohio1850175116731512133827.7%
Utah1813171315081454132227.1%
Alabama1444138512641139105926.7%
Nebraska2009188918031652147926.4%
Alaska1351134012371191100325.8%
California69869766261553723.1%
Kansas1940182818281658149922.7%
Missouri1963184917421711154421.3%
Montana2246211421141936177121.1%
Indiana1924181717721707153120.4%
West Virginia2019189818981687162019.8%
Wyoming2115198819571771171419.0%
Kentucky2158202819781947176318.3%
Iowa*1552146113041472130116.2%
Hawaii1540151215121485130615.2%
Rhode Island90790790786778213.8%
Maine*43743742545137813.5%
North Dakota1994187518751865178310.6%
VermontNo affected sources
D.C.

*In the cases of Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, and South Dakota, the emission rate rises when building block three is added. The 2012 renewable generation levels in these states were higher than what EPA's methodology projects for 2030, meaning EPA assumes lower renewable generation, and therefore higher emission rates, for these states in 2030. These increases in emission rates are reflected by negative percentage changes for the effect of building block three when you click on these states in the map above.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Technical Support Document (TSD) for the CAA Section 111(d) Emission Guidelines for Existing Power Plants: Goal Computation, Appendix 5.

C2ES Carbon Pollution Standards Resource Page

Syndicate content