News roundup: EPA announces plan to cut CO2 emissions

The news this morning in the energy world is all about one thing – the EPA’s proposal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.

The EPA has set a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants 30 percent by 2030, and wind power has the ability to help achieve that goal. The Washington Post:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a regulation Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, according to individuals who have been briefed on the plan.
  • Ever since a climate bill stalled in the Senate four years ago, environmental and public health activists have been pressing Obama to use his executive authority to impose carbon limits on the power sector, which accounts for 38 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions.
  • The proposal, which would cut 500 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2030, ranks as one of Obama’s most far-reaching climate policies.
  • Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, noted in an interview that a spokesman for the Colorado-based utility Xcel Energy explained that his company was expanding its investments in solar and wind power because they are the “most cost-effective and most reliable.”
  • The American Wind Energy Association, which also supports a federal carbon cap on existing plants, recently published a study that found that consumer rates declined over the past five years in the 11 states that use the most wind, while rates increased collectively in all the other states during that same time period.

The rule, a source told The Wall Street Journal, will focus on letting states decide how to reduce their carbon emissions:

  • The rule, scheduled to be completed one year from now, will give flexibility to the states, which must implement the rules and submit compliance plans to EPA by June 2016. States can decide how to meet the reductions, including joining or creating new cap-and-trade programs, deploying more renewable energy or ramping up energy-efficiency technologies.
  • Each state will have different percent reduction standards, and the national average will be 25% by 2020 and 30% by 2030, [sources] said.

The push by the administration to cut CO2 emissions could be the centerpiece of the president’s climate change plan. New York Times:

  • The Obama administration on Monday will announce one of the strongest actions ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change, a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, according to people briefed on the plan who spoke anonymously because they had been asked not to reveal details.
  • Under the rule, states will be given a wide menu of policy options to achieve the pollution cuts. Rather than immediately shutting down coal plants, states would be allowed to reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems — by installing new wind and solar generation or energy-efficiency technology, and by starting or joining state and regional “cap and trade” programs, in which states agree to cap carbon pollution and buy and sell permits to pollute.
  • Experts said that the new regulation would set the United States on track to meet its target set forth in a United Nations accord in 2009, when Mr. Obama pledged that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas pollution 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050.


Juliet Eilperin and Steve Mufson, “EPA to propose cutting carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants 30% by 2030.” The Washington Post. 1 June 2014.

Amy Harder, “EPA Power-Plant Proposal Will Seek 30% Carbon Dioxide Emissions Cut by 2030.” The Wall Street Journal. 1 June 2014.

Coral Davenport, “Obama to Take Action to Slash Coal Pollution.” The New York Times. 1 June 2014.


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