EEI > Issues & Policy > Environment > Climate > Domestic Policy Initiatives
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Domestic Policy Initiatives
In response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision, and in the absence of federal climate legislation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun regulating GHGs under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Starting in 2011, all new power plants and existing plants undergoing significant modification have been subject to GHG best available control technology permitting requirements. On June 25, 2013, President Obama issued his administration’s Climate Action Plan, which called for EPA to move forward with GHG emissions standards for existing or modified sources. A Presidential Memorandum issued the same day provided a schedule for regulatory action: a reproposal of the new source NSPS by September 20, 2013; proposed GHG standards for existing and modified sources by June 1, 2014; and final standards for existing and modified sources by June 1, 2015.

In April 2012, EPA issued proposed GHG new source performance standards (NSPS) for new fossil fuel-based units under CAA section 111(b), which were effective upon issuance and which require all new plants to achieve an emissions standard equivalent to that of a modern natural gas combined-cycle plant.  The proposed standards were reproposed by EPA in January 2014, and EEI filed comments on the reproposal in May 2014.  EPA has been directed by the President to finalize these standards “in a timely fashion.”

In June 2014, EPA issued draft emission guidelines for states to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing plants under Clean Air Act (CAA) section 111(d).  For each state the draft guidelines set interim average emission rate goals (lbs/MWh) for the period 2020-2029, and final goals to be achieved by 2030, calculated from a 2012 The proposed guidelines are scheduled to be finalized by mid-summer 2015.  On December 1, 2014, EEI filed comments on the draft 111(d) guidelines, which identified a number of concerns with the proposed guidelines, and offered suggestions for how to address many of them.

In June 2014, EPA also proposed draft standards for modified and reconstructed plants under CAA section 111(b), on which EEI filed comments in October 2014. 

In addition to federal activity, there are also state and regional programs addressing GHG emissions. For example, California has implemented state law A.B. 32, which established an  economy-wide cap-and-trade program designed to reduce the state’s GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In addition, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a nine-state, power sector-only, carbon dioxide (CO2)-only cap-and-trade program based in the Northeast that is designed to reduce GHG emissions 10 percent below 2005 levels by 2018.  RGGI has been in operation since 2009.  As noted above, additional state and regional activity will be driven by compliance with the GHG emissions guidelines for existing power plants.

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