Federal

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions seeks to inform the design and implementation of federal policies that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Drawing from its extensive peer-reviewed published works, in-house policy analyses, and tracking of current legislative proposals, the Center provides research, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch. Read More
 

Carbon Pollution Standards

Carbon Pollution Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan, proposed in June 2014, would limit carbon pollution from existing power plants.

Electric power generation is responsible for nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions – making it the largest single 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. His June 2013 presidential memorandum directed EPA to set standards for both new and existing plants.

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 30 percent from 2005 emissions by 2030, with an interim target of 25 percent on average between 2020 and 2029. EPA is expected to finalize this rule by June 2015.

In September 2013, EPA released a “Carbon Pollution Standard for New Power Plants,” replacing a March 2012 proposal. EPA proposed standards for coal- and natural gas-fired plants (measured as tons of greenhouse gas emissions per megawatt-hour of elec­tricity produced) that states would apply at each regulated plant. EPA is expected to finalize this rule in 2014.

Explore the issues and options involved in EPA regulation of carbon pollution from power plants through the following resources.

C2ES Resources

External Resources

Companies are part of the equation to address climate change

While the focus in New York this week has been on world leaders pledging to act on climate change, business leaders also stepped up to be part of the climate solution.

In recent years, many companies have acknowledged the risks of climate change and worked to improve their energy efficiency and sustainability. This week, companies announced new efforts to fund clean energy, reduce carbon emissions, and support a price on carbon.

For example, Bank of America announced an initiative to spur at least $10 billion of new investment in clean energy projects. Hewlett Packard announced plans to reduce emissions intensity of its product portfolio by 40 percent from 2010 levels by 2020.

Many companies joined together to take a stand:

Don't toss out the good electricity with the bad

One way to reduce power plant carbon emissions is to reduce the demand for electricity. Encouraging customer energy efficiency is one of the building blocks underpinning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. But the plan does not distinguish among uses of electricity. That means, without further options, the Clean Power Plan could inadvertently discourage states from deploying electric vehicles (EVs), electric mass transit, and other technologies that use electricity instead of a dirtier fuel.

In all but very coal-heavy regions, using electricity as a transportation fuel, especially in mass transit applications, results in the emission of far less carbon dioxide than burning gasoline. In industry, carbon emissions can be cut by using electric conveyance systems instead of diesel- or propane-fueled forklifts and electric arc furnaces instead of coal boilers.

Under the proposed power plant rules, new uses of electricity would be discouraged regardless of whether a state pursues a rate-based target (pounds of emissions per unit of electricity produced) or a mass-based target (tons of emissions per year).

EPA has a few options to make sure regulations for power plants would not discourage uses of electricity that result in less carbon emissions overall.

Climate Interest, But No Action in the 113th Congress

The 113th Congress (2013-2014) is on track to be one of the least productive and most divided in history. No legislation explicitly mentioning climate change has been enacted into law, but more bills and resolutions related to climate change have been introduced in this Congress than in the previous one. (For brevity, we refer to all legislative proposals, including resolutions, and amendments, and draft bills, as “bills.”)


Only two bills loosely related to climate change (though not directly referencing it) have been passed and signed into law: the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act and the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill, which provided $17 billion and $9.7 billion, respectively, to cope with Sandy’s aftermath.

Of the 221 bills introduced that explicitly reference climate change or related terms, such as greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide, the majority support climate action. These focus primarily on building resilience to a changing climate, supporting the deployment of clean energy, and improving energy efficiency. A number would use some form of carbon pricing to reduce emissions.

President Obama's Climate Action Plan: One Year Later

President Obama's Climate Action Plan: One Year Later

June 2014

Download the full brief (PDF)

One year after President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, the administration has made marked progress in its initial implementation. The plan, announced June 25, 2013, outlines 75 goals in three areas: cutting carbon pollution in the United States, preparing the United States for the impacts of climate change, and leading international efforts to address climate change. The administration has made at least some progress on most of the plan’s 75 goals; many of the specific tasks outlined have been completed. In several key areas, the administration has taken important first steps, but it is too early to gauge their success or ultimate impact.

 

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Risky Business report shows need to act on climate change

You expect a business leader to keep a close eye on the bottom line and to act when a threat is clear. As C2ES and others have noted, it is increasingly clear to many business leaders that climate change is a here-and-now threat that we all -- businesses, government and individuals -- must address.

Today’s “Risky Business” report lays out in stark numerical terms the likely economic impact of climate change on U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy. The initiative – co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer – brings high-profile attention to this issue in the hopes that highlighting the risks and potential costs will help spur action to manage the impacts and curb climate-altering emissions.

The report’s outline of the many costs of climate impacts is likely an underestimate. For example, the impacts of diminishing groundwater are difficult to calculate and are not included.

Using Captured Carbon Dioxide for Enhanced Oil Recovery

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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2-4 p.m.Russell Senate Office BuildingRoom SR-385

An Energy, Economic and Environmental Solution for Our Nation:
Using Captured Carbon Dioxide for Enhanced Oil Recovery

Thursday, June 26, 2014
2-4 p.m.

Russell Senate Office Building
Room SR-385
2 Constitution Avenue, NE
Washington, D.C., 20002

Carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) is a decades-old, proven commercial practice that involves injecting CO2 into already developed oil fields to coax additional production. Increasing the supply of CO2 captured from power plants and industrial sources for use in CO2-EOR has the potential to increase American oil production by tens of billions of barrels, while safely storing billions of tons of CO2 underground. The event will focus on CO2-EOR’s benefits for domestic energy production, the economy, and the environment.

Welcome

BRAD CRABTREE
Vice President, Fossil Energy, Great Plains Institute
 

Introductory Remarks

The Honorable RICHARD GEPHARDT
Former Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives (D-MO)

The Honorable TIM HUTCHINSON
Former U.S. Senator (R-AR)


Panel Discussion

THOMAS ALTMEYER
Vice President, Government Affairs, Arch Coal, Inc.

HUNTER JOHNSTON
Counsel, Leucadia Energy

BRAD MARKELL
Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO

JOHN STEELMAN
Climate Program Manager, Natural Resources Defense Council


Closing Remarks

PATRICK FALWELL

Solutions Fellow, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions


The National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI) brings together industry, labor and environmental advocates, and state officials to foster increased domestic oil production through the capture, use and storage of CO2 from power plants and industrial facilities.  NEORI is convened by the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions (C2ES) and Great Plains Institute (GPI).

Climate change poses national security risks at home and abroad

More than a dozen military leaders say the impacts of climate change threaten military readiness and response and will increase instability and conflict around the globe.

Their assessments are included in a recent report, National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change, by the CNA Corporation’s Military Advisory Board. The report’s authors – including 16 retired generals and admirals from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps – conclude that climate change impacts will act as threat multipliers and catalysts. Projected warming, changes in precipitation, sea level rise, and extreme weather events will pose risks to security within the U.S. and abroad.

At home, some of the threats are here and now. Many of the nation’s military installations are in coastal areas vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges. For example, the low-lying Hampton Roads area of Virginia is home to 29 military facilities. Sea level in the area is projected to rise 1.5 feet over the next 20-50 years and as much as 7.5 feet by the end of the century. One advisory board member, Brig. Gen. Gerald Galloway, stressed that “unless these threats are identified and addressed, they have the potential to disrupt day-to-day military operations, limit our ability to use our training areas and ranges, and put our installations at risk in the face of extreme weather events.”

Figure 1: Sea level rise projections for the Hampton Roads region, which is home to 29 different military facilities. Source: CNA, 2014

Carbon Pollution Standards

Image: 
Text: 
Our map shows each state's proposed targets under the EPA's proposed emissions standards for existing power plants, and how the agency derived them.
Text Location: 
Left

Carbon Pollution Standards Map


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

State Emissions 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
Washington 756 728 444 298 215 71.6%
Arizona 1453 1394 843 814 702 51.7%
South Carolina 1587 1506 1342 866 772 51.4%
Oregon 717 701 565 452 372 48.1%
New Hampshire 905 887 710 532 486 46.3%
Georgia 1500 1433 1216 926 834 44.4%
Arkansas 1634 1554 1058 996 910 44.3%
New York 978 970 828 652 549 43.9%
New Jersey 928 916 811 616 531 42.8%
Minnesota 1470 1389 999 1042 873 40.6%
North Carolina 1647 1560 1248 1125 992 39.8%
Louisiana 1455 1404 1043 978 883 39.3%
Tennessee 1903 1797 1698 1322 1163 38.9%
Texas 1284 1235 979 861 791 38.4%
Florida 1199 1169 882 812 740 38.3%
Virginia 1302 1258 1047 894 810 37.8%
Massachusetts 925 915 819 661 576 37.7%
Mississippi 1093 1071 809 752 692 36.7%
Maryland 1870 1772 1722 1394 1187 36.5%
Oklahoma 1387 1334 1053 964 895 35.5%
Colorado 1714 1621 1334 1222 1108 35.4%
South Dakota 1135 1067 732 900 741 34.7%
Nevada 988 970 799 720 647 34.5%
Wisconsin 1827 1728 1487 1379 1203 34.2%
New Mexico 1586 1513 1277 1163 1048 33.9%
Illinois 1894 1784 1614 1476 1271 32.9%
Idaho 339 339 339 291 228 32.7%
Delaware 1234 1211 996 892 841 31.8%
Michigan 1690 1603 1408 1339 1161 31.3%
Pennsylvania 1531 1458 1393 1157 1052 31.3%
Connecticut 765 764 733 643 540 29.4%
Ohio 1850 1751 1673 1512 1338 27.7%
Utah 1813 1713 1508 1454 1322 27.1%
Alabama 1444 1385 1264 1139 1059 26.7%
Nebraska 2009 1889 1803 1652 1479 26.4%
Alaska 1351 1340 1237 1191 1003 25.8%
California 698 697 662 615 537 23.1%
Kansas 1940 1828 1828 1658 1499 22.7%
Missouri 1963 1849 1742 1711 1544 21.3%
Montana 2246 2114 2114 1936 1771 21.1%
Indiana 1924 1817 1772 1707 1531 20.4%
West Virginia 2019 1898 1898 1687 1620 19.8%
Wyoming 2115 1988 1957 1771 1714 19.0%
Kentucky 2158 2028 1978 1947 1763 18.3%
Iowa 1552 1461 1304 1472 1301 16.2%
Hawaii 1540 1512 1512 1485 1306 15.2%
Rhode Island 907 907 907 867 782 13.8%
Maine 437 437 425 451 378 13.5%
North Dakota 1994 1875 1875 1865 1783 10.6%
Vermont No affected sources
D.C.

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

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