Carbon Pollution Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new limits on 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.

In June 2014, EPA released a “Clean Power Plan” to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants. Under the rule, each state has its own target (due to regional variation in generation mix and electricity consumption), but 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.

Previously, 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 later this year.

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

C2ES Resources

External Resources