Legislative Update - CAA 111(d)

July 10, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a Clean Power Plan (CPP) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing electric power plants under the Clean Air Act (CAA), section 111(d).  Carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel combustion is the primary GHG, and the electric power sector is responsible for the majority of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Greenhouse gases are believed to be linked to anthropogenic climate change. Coal emits the most CO2 per unit of electricity produced, and is the fossil fuel most used for electric power generation. EPA has proposed its CPP to “protect public health” and “fight climate change” while providing Americans with “reliable and affordable power.”


Highlights of EPA’s proposal are as follows:

  • Under CAA section 111(d), the EPA has identified what it considers the “best system of emission reductions” (BSER) that is adequately demonstrated and available to reduce pollution.
  • EPA believes the CCP will allow CO2 emissions in 2030 to be reduced by approximately 30% compared to 2005 levels.
  • To achieve this goal, EPA has proposed state-specific carbon reduction goals based upon each state’s existing electric power generation portfolio.
  • EPA has established the state-specific goals based on the use of (a) improvements in the efficiency of coal-fired power plants, (2) lower-emitting generation sources such as natural gas or fuel switching to natural gas, and use of nuclear power, (3) demand-side efficiency, and (4) renewable electric generation. EPA says these four measures (which it calls “Building Blocks”) constitute the BSER.
  • States must file a compliance plan by June 30, 2016. States can seek a one year extension (to June 30, 2017).  States can pursue regional approaches and utilize a wide variety of reductions efforts.  States that participate in regional approaches do not have to show compliance with their state-specific emission rate goal - a new regional goal will be established.  States that file a regional carbon reduction plan would have until June 30, 2018to submit a compliance plan but they can seek a two year extension.
  • EPA believes the benefits of its CPP will far outweigh any costs.
  • EPA’s guidelines allow a 120-day comment period on its CPP proposal (beginning June 18, 2014, the date of publication in the Federal Register).

For more information on EPA's proposal click here.

LaKeesha Wilson

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