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United States of America

Clean Power Plan

legislation type Executive
Passed in 2015
The Clean Power Plan, developed under the Clean Air Act, sets state targets for carbon emissions reductions, and offers a flexible framework under which states may meet those targets. The aim is to reduce national electricity sector emissions by an estimated 32 % below 2005 levels by 2030 (nearly 870 million tons), in particular in two subcategories of fossil fuel-fired electric generating units: fossil fuel-fired electric steam generating units (mostly coal- and oil-fired power plants), and natural gas-fired combined cycle generating units.
Options for cutting emissions include investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, natural gas, and nuclear power, and shifting away from coal-fired power. The Plan also aims to limit shift to natural gas and promote renewables.
Targets differ across states because of each state's unique mix of electricity-generation resources, as well as technological feasibilities, costs, and emissions reduction potentials. States are free to combine any of the options in a flexible manner to meet their targets or join together in multi-state or regional compacts to reduce their carbon emissions through the lowest cost options, including through emissions trading programs.
States must submit a final plan, or an initial plan with a request for an extension (potentially until September 2018), by September 6, 2016. Compliance period starts in 2022.
The Clean Power Plan also provides incentives for early deployment of renewables and efficiency measures benefiting low-income communities, as well as tools to assist states in implementing market-based approaches. A Federal Implementation Plan is also being designed, for EPA to use in states that do not adopt adequate individual implementation plans.
The Clean Power Plan is expected to contribute significant pollution reductions, potentially resulting in:

  • Climate-related benefits of $20 billion

  • Health benefits of $14-$34 billion

  • Net benefits of $26-$45 billion

 Note: In February 2016, the US Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Electric Generating Units, pending judicial review.


from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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