The Obama administration and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out the Clean Power Plan this week, which establishes new regulatory standards for carbon-producing power sources while promoting the rapid deployment of renewable power from technologies like wind and solar.
The text of the Plan is, itself, a bit unwieldy: At more than 1,500 pages, you probably don’t have time to leisurely thumb through it while you drink your morning coffee. So what does the Clean Power Plan mean for you? Here are some of the key tenets.
The Plan is a set of environmental standards developed under the Clean Air Act, which is a Congressional act that charges the EPA with creating standards that reduce the atmospheric pollutants that affect public health.
The most widely discussed feature of the Plan is that, for the first time, the EPA will place limits on the carbon emissions that power plans are allowed to produce. But more generally speaking, the Plan aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions nationwide by 32 from 2005 levels, and to do so by 2030. Achieving this goal means reducing emissions from power plants, but it also means
The implementation of these goals is done at the state level, and each state is provided a relatively flexible scheme for achieving them. That’s because each state uses different power technologies in different proportions, and a strict, one-size-fits all approach would place some states at a disadvantage relative to others. Currently, states have until September of 2016 to submit plans outlining how they will meet the standards established under the Clean Power Plan, or to file for an extension.
The schedule for implementing the Plan is aggressive, with all provisions slated for completion within the next fifteen years. Following is a rough timeline that lays out some of the key milestones.
Because the Clean Power Plan delegates implementation to the states, the Plan will manifest itself in different ways, depending upon where you live and work. For example, even though the implementation plans are due in September 2016, states can request an extension that postpones the requirement to 2018. States are also required to engage low-income, minority, and tribal communities in the development of their implementation plans. Finally, the EPA is providing its own federal plan, which can serve as a model for state plans.
Like most government regulations, the Clean Power Plan is incredibly complex and its applications and implications are still developing. Our Air Permitting team will continue to follow the progress of this regulation and any new ones that may affect the air permitting process for your new or existing facility.