What is the Clean Power Plan? 

The agreement that came out of the 2015 COP 21 Sustainable Innovation Forum in Paris and adopted by 196 countries reaffirmed that the world must limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The clean power plan is a set of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations set forth in August 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector nationwide by 32 percent by 2030. This plan is an integral part of President Obama administration’s efforts to meet its obligations under the recent Paris Climate Agreement.

To learn more about the EPA’s Clean power plan and the President’s Climate Action Plan click here:  https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan

What is the status of the Clean Power Plan?

This Federal Clean Power Plan implementation was recently stayed by the US Supreme Court while the D.C. Circuit court considers challenges.  The Environmental Protection Agency filed its initial brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit responding to a legal challenge to its Clean Power Plan. The plan cannot be implemented until the challenge is considered.

Federal regulators have filed their first defense of the Clean Power Plan in a court case addressing the law’s merits, arguing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that it has the authority to limit emissions from existing power plants.

Opponents of the rule say the EPA is overstepping its authority under the Clean Air Act, and that the rule will hurt state economies still heavily tied to coal-fired generation.

To read the EPA’s initial brief, click here:  EPA’s Initial Brief

Why does Pennsylvania need its own Clean Power Plan?

Under EPA regulations, every state, Pennsylvania included, has the opportunity to craft its own best strategy to meet the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan proposal sets a pollution reduction target for each state by assessing four readily available methods (or “building blocks”) for cutting pollution in that state. The target is expressed in intensity—pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity produced.

Pennsylvania is being asked to reduce its pollution intensity 33 percent by 2030 in order to meet the Federal Clean Power Plan targets.

How does Pennsylvania achieve its goals? 

The state is in process of drafting an initial plan to meet the pollution reduction target.  The plan is due in September 2016, but the date may change pending the Supreme Court stay.

The three building blocks the EPA has assessed to establish state targets are: 1) making electric power plants more efficient by increasing the amount of electricity they generate from each ton of coal burned; 2) using natural gas power plants more effectively by dispatching them before coal plants; and 3) increasing renewable energy growth, based on a growth rate already being met in the region.

While the carbon pollution targets are based on these building blocks, the states have not adopted the targets as their own plan and every state can meet their plans in any way they choose.

Want to learn more about Pennsylvania’s Clean Power Plan?

For a PA DEP overview of the plan, click here:  http://files.dep.state.pa.us/Air/AirQuality/AQPortalFiles/ClimateChange/Clean%20Power%20Plan%20Presentation%20-%20Sec.%20John%20Quigley%20-%2009092015.pdf

Join PennFutures in Phoenixville on April 20th to learn about what the Clean Power Plan means to Pennsylvania. RSVP here.