EPA Announces “Clean Power Plan” to Reduce Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

by BakerHostetler

On June 2, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced its proposed Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

According to the EPA, temperatures have been rising since 1901, and in 2012, weather disasters cost the United States over $100 billion. The EPA cites human emissions of greenhouse gases as the cause of these climate changes, and states that power plants are responsible for about one-third of all United States GHG emissions, and are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions nationwide. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan includes a National Framework for States that sets state-specific emissions goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The Plan only proposes goals for states with fossil fuel-fired power plants, so Vermont and Washington, D.C. are not included because they do not have fossil fuel-fired power plants that would be affected by the Plan. The EPA also did not propose goals for the four sources located on Indian reservations.

The EPA estimates that the Clean Power Plan will create climate and health benefits totaling an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion per year by 2030, and reduce carbon pollution in the power sector nationwide by about 30 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030. The EPA expects electricity bills to be about 8 percent lower as states, cities, businesses, and homeowners work to increase energy efficiency. The EPA also claims that the Plan will create jobs for Americans in the power sector and ensure that the United States remains a leader in the global movement towards sustainable energy.

The EPA’s “National Framework for States” outlines state-specific emissions goals under the Clean Power Plan. The EPA devised the following formula to calculate each state’s goal: CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants in pounds divided by state electricity generation from fossil-fuel fired power plants and certain low- or zero-emitting power sources in megawatt hours. In developing this formula, the EPA analyzed what states and utilities were already doing to reduce carbon emissions, and identified four “building blocks” for states to implement in order to increase energy efficiency:

  1. Increase the efficiency of fossil fuel power plants;
  2. Increase the use of low-emitting power sources (i.e., natural-gas combined cycle plants);
  3. Increase the use of zero-emitting power sources (e.g., renewables and nuclear); and
  4. Generally increase the efficiency of end-use, consumer electricity consumption.

The EPA’s formula applies the building blocks to create each state’s goal, but each state is free to choose any combination of the four measures to meet its goal. The EPA also proposes to accept multi-state implementation plans.

The Plan could have far-reaching consequences across a wide range of states, industries, and consumers; and certain industries have been critical of the plan. The United States Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, which represents more than three million businesses, analyzed the impact of GHG regulation on the power industry and the U.S. economy. They determined that “even with implementation features designed to keep compliance costs low. . . [the Plan] leads to nearly a half trillion dollars in total compliance expense, peak GDP losses over $100 billion, hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, higher electricity costs for consumers and businesses, and more than $200 on average every year in lower disposable income for families. . . .”

The coal industry would be the hardest hit, as coal-fired power plants are responsible for 76 percent of utilities’ carbon dioxide emissions. In a state like Ohio, which derives more than 69 percent of its electricity from coal, the Plan could destroy the coal mining industry and over 3,000 people could lose their jobs. In a statement  to the Pittsburgh Business Times on Monday, Ohio-based coal company Murray Energy Corp. said “The Obama Administration’s proposed cap-and-tax mandates are absolutely illegal and will destroy millions of jobs, cripple the American economy, and cause massive blackouts in this country.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the Plan “a dagger in the heart of the American middle class, and to representative Democracy itself.” However, 128 companies and 49 investors sent letters to the Obama Administration supporting the proposed regulation because they claim it will reduce the financial risks posed by climate change.

Comments on the Clean Power Plan must be submitted within 120 days after the Plan is published in the Federal Register. Additionally, public hearings will take place the week of July 28 in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Denver, and Washington, D.C. The EPA aims to finalize the Plan by June 1, 2015. States would then have until June 30, 2016 to submit their initial state plans; states can request an extension for submitting their complete plans of one year (for single-state submissions) or two years (for multi-state submissions).

More information regarding the Clean Power Plan can be found here, here, and here.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© BakerHostetler | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


BakerHostetler on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.