On June 2, 2014, U.S. EPA released proposed regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. The proposed regulations, promulgated pursuant to Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, contain two main parts: (1) establishment of state-specific carbon dioxide (CO2) emission performance goals for power plants and (2) requirements for states to develop and submit a state plan for reaching the CO2 emission performance goals.

In the proposed rules, EPA sets rate-based CO2 emission performance goals (expressed in pounds of CO2 per net megawatt hour) on a state-by state basis. The state-specific CO2 emission performance goals include an interim goal, to be met by each state in 2020-2029, and a final goal, to be met by each state by 2030. The 2030 goals are designed to cut CO2 emissions from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels.

States must submit to EPA a state plan designed to meet the interim and final emission performance goals set by EPA. States must submit the plans to EPA by June 30, 2016 or seek an extension until June 30, 2017. States may work together in a multi-state approach under the regulations, in which case they will have until June 20, 2018 to submit their plan to EPA. A complete state plan must include the following twelve components:

  • Identification of affected entities
  • Description of plan approach and geographic scope
  • Identification of state emission performance level
  • Demonstration that plan is projected to achieve emission performance level
  • Identification of emissions standards
  • Demonstration that each emissions standard is quantifiable, non-duplicative, permanent, verifiable, and enforceable
  • Identification of monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements
  • Description of state reporting
  • Identification of milestones
  • Identification of backstop measures
  • Certification of hearing on state plan
  • Supporting material 

The state plans must address CO2 emissions from all affected power plants, which include most steam generating units, integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) units, and stationary combustion turbines that commenced construction on or before January 8, 2014. EPA has previously proposed regulations, on September 20, 2013, which would limit CO2 emissions from newly-constructed power plants. The comment period on those regulations closed on January 8, 2014, and final proposed regulations from EPA are still pending.

Public comments on EPA's proposal to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants will be accepted by EPA for at least 120 days after publication of the proposed rules in the Federal Register. EPA will also host public hearings during the week of July 28th in Denver, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Pittsburg. After reviewing the public comments, EPA plans to finalize the regulations by June 2015.

Click here for more information about EPA's proposed CO2 regulations.

The text of the proposed regulations is available here.