Carbon Pollution Standards

What EPA is Doing

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Reducing carbon pollution from the power sector

On September 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its first steps under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.  EPA is proposing carbon pollution standards for new power plants built in the future, and is kicking off the process of engagement with states, stakeholders, and the public to establish carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. In the Clean Air Act, Congress recognized that the opportunity to build emissions controls into a source’s design is greater for new sources than for existing sources, so it laid out different approaches to set the two types of standards.

New power plants

The EPA issued a new proposal for the Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants. These proposed standards are the first uniform national limits on the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be allowed to emit. The proposed standards are in line with investments in clean energy technologies that are already being made in the power industry. The proposal ensures that the nation will continue to rely on a diverse mix of energy sources, including efficient natural gas, clean coal technology, nuclear power, and renewable energy like wind and solar. Learn more about the proposal.

Existing power plants

Standards for currently operating plants are set through a federal-state partnership that includes federal guidelines and state plans to set and implement performance standards. Reflecting the significant differences between currently operating sources and those not yet built, the standards that will be developed for currently operating sources are expected to be different from, and less stringent than, the standards proposed today for future sources. Over the coming months, EPA will be engaging with states and a diverse set of partners, including the power sector, environmental groups, and the public, to identify innovative, pragmatic approaches that build on the leadership that many states have already shown to cut carbon pollution from the power sector. Questions for state partners.

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Developing carbon pollution standards under the Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act lays out distinct approaches for new and existing sources under Section 111: a federal program for new sources and state programs for existing sources. EPA is using its authority under section 111 of the Clean Air Act to issue standards, regulations or guidelines, as appropriate that address carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, including modifications of those plants. This section of the Act establishes a mechanism for controlling air pollution from stationary sources.

Section 111 (b) is the federal program to address new, modified and reconstructed sources by establishing standards.

Section 111 (d) is a state-based program for existing sources. The EPA establishes guidelines. The states then design programs that fit in those guidelines and get the needed reductions.

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Overview presentation of Clean Air Act Section 111

The following overview presentation provides a basic understanding of Clean Air Act section 111 and how it will inform the design of the program.

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