Clean Power Plan

Review the basics of the Clean Power Plan and follow the links to learn more.

Background

As the future of the CPP is uncertain, some have questioned whether existing policies and trends in electricity generation would continue to lower CO2 emissions. Modeling results indicate that CO2 emissions in the electricity sector are expected to continue declining. If these recent trends in the electric power sector continue, CO2 emissions in that sector may continue to decrease. Assuming this were to occur, some might question the importance of the CPP in terms of meeting U.S. GHG emission goals. However, modeling results cited above indicate that the CPP would have a substantial impact on future CO2 emission levels from the electric power sector. However, modeling results indicate that the declines would be substantially greater if the CPP were implemented.

Accurately forecasting future CO2 emission levels is a complex and challenging endeavor. A comparison of actual CO2 emissions (from energy use) between 1990 and 2017 with selected emission projections illustrates this difficulty. In general, actual emissions have remained well below projections. Whether the United States ultimately achieves the 2020 and 2025 targets will likely depend, to some degree, on GHG emission levels, particularly CO2 emissions, from electric power plants—one of the largest sources of U.S. emissions.

Reports

EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Highlights of the final Rule

This report provides a brief analysis of EPA’s final rule, summarizing highlights and identifying differences between the final and proposed rules. The topics discussed do not represent an exhaustive list of the differences from the proposed rule or the support or opposition that may be raised by various stakeholders. This report does not provide a legal analysis of the final rule.

Clean Power Plan: Legal Background and Pending Litigation

This report provides legal background on the Rule, its Clean Air Act (CAA) framework under Section 111, and climate-related lawsuits that have preceded the present litigation over the Clean Power Plan. It then gives an overview of the participants in the current litigation, including two groups of Members of Congress, who have offered briefs in support of both sides. This report highlights the major events in the litigation as of the date of publication, including the Supreme Court stay and oral argument, and the likely timetable of events in the near term. Additionally, this report looks at other arguments regarding federal and state rolls in climate regulation, procedural challenges, and what next steps might occur in both the litigation and regulatory arenas.

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Trends and Projections

This report examines recent trends in U.S. GHG emissions, particularly CO2 emissions from electricity generation, and the factors that impact emission levels in that sector. In addition, this report examines the degree to which CPP implementation (or lack thereof) may impact CO2 emission levels from electric power plants. The first section provides an overview of various sources of GHG emissions in the United States. This includes an overview of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and a closer look at CO2 emissions from electricity generation, which account for the second-largest percentage of CO2 emission from fossil fuel combustion (1 percentage point behind the transportation sector). The second section examines projections of CO2 emissions in the electric power sector, with a particular focus on the role of the CPP and other factors. The final section highlights the challenges in making CO2 emission projections with a comparison of actual CO2 emissions with prior emission forecasts. This report uses GHG emissions data from two different sources: EPA and the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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