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This proposal is based on the United States Clean Power Plan by the Executive Office of the President of the United States



This summary was created by the Climate CoLab team. We invite other CoLab members to link to this proposal or to use it as a starting point for creating a new proposals of their own. The  Executive Office of the President of the United States does not endorse this summary.

The purpose of this plan is ultimately  to protect human health and the environment by reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants in the U.S. These plants are by far the largest domestic stationary source of emissions of CO2, the most prevalent of the group of air pollutant GHGs that the EPA has determined endangers public health and welfare through its contribution to climate change. 

These guidelines will lead to significant reductions in CO2 emissions, result in cleaner generation from the existing power plant fleet, and support continued investments by the industry in cleaner power generation to ensure reliable, affordable electricity.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets to establish:

1) Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission performance rates representing the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for two subcategories of existing fossil fuel-fired Electric Utility Generating Units (EGUs)

  • fossil fuel-fired electric utility steam generating units
  • stationary combustion turbines


2) State-specific CO2 goals reflecting the CO2 emission performance rates

3) guidelines for the development, submittal and implementation of state plans that establish emissions standards to achieve the outlined performance rates

What actions do you propose?

The EPA will establish a CO2 emissions performance rate for each of the above mentioned subcategories of fossil fuel-fired EGUs; fossil fuel-fired electric utility steam generating units and stationary combustion turbines. 

For fossil fuel-fired steam generating units, the EPA is finalizing an emission performance rate of 1,305 lb CO2/MWh. For stationary combustion turbines, they are also finalizing an emission performance rate of 771 lb CO2/MWh. 

 The EPA is also establishing state-specific rate-based. and mass-based goals that reflect the subcategory-specific CO2 emission performance rates and each state’s mix of affected EGUs. The guidelines also provide for the development, submittal and implementation of state plans that implement the BSER (see above) – again, expressed as CO2 emission performance rates – either directly by means of source-specific emission standards or other requirements, or through measures that achieve equivalent CO2 reductions from the same group of EGUs. States with one or more affected EGUs will be required to develop and implement plans that set emission standards for affected EGUs. The CAA section 111(d) emission guidelines that the EPA is promulgating in this action apply to only the 48 contiguous states and any Indian tribe that has been approved by the EPA pursuant to 40 CFR 49.9 as eligible to develop and implement a CAA section 111(d) plan.

State plans must:

  1. ensure that the period for emission reductions from the affected EGUs begin no later than 2022
  2. show how goals for the interim and final periods
  3. 3) ensure that, during the period from 2022 to 2029, affected EGUs in the state collectively meet the equivalent of the interim subcategory-specific CO2 emission performance rates
  4. provide for periodic state-level demonstrations prior to and during the 2022-2029 period that will ensure required CO2 emission reductions are being accomplished and no increases in emissions relative to each state’s planned emission reduction trajectory are occurring.


Furthermore,  a Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) will provide opportunities for investments in renewable energy (RE) and demand-side energy efficiency (EE) that deliver results in 2020 and/or 2021. The plans must be submitted to the EPA in 2016, though an extension to 2018 is available to allow for the completion of stakeholder and administrative processes. 

The EPA is promulgating:

  1.  subcategory-specific CO2 emission performance rates
  2. state rate-based goals
  3. state mass-based CO2 goals that represent the equivalent of each state’s rate-based goal.


This will facilitate states’ choices in developing their plans, particularly for those seeking to adopt mass-based allowance trading programs or other statewide policy measures as well as, or instead of, source-specific requirements.

Those states committed to Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) will be able to establish their CO2 reduction plans within that framework, while states with a more deregulated power sector system will be able to develop CO2 reduction plans within that specific framework. 

States will be able to take advantage and utilize existing technologies such as: demand-side EE programs and mass-based trading. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have offered to help states to help develop and implement their plans by sharing expertise. 

States will also be able  to address the economic interests of their utilities and ratepayers by using the flexibilities in this final action to reduce costs to consumers, minimize stranded assets, and spur private investments in RE and EE technologies and businesses. They can additionally work with other states to enable multi-state approaches that reflect the regional structure of electricity operating systems that exists in most parts of the country and is critical to ensuring a reliable supply of affordable energy.

Per this ruling and the Clean Air Act the EPA has is also responsible for identifying the "best system of emission reduction" (BSER). The agency has determined that the BSER comprises the first three of the four proposed “building blocks,” with certain refinements to the three building blocks. The three building blocks are:

  1.  Improving heat rate at affected coal-fired steam EGUs.
  2.  Substituting increased generation from loweremitting existing natural gas combined cycle units for reduced generation from higher-emitting affected steam generating units.
  3. Substituting increased generation from new zeroemitting renewable energy generating capacity for reduced generation from affected fossil fuel-fired generating units. 


These three building blocks are approaches that are available to all affected EGUs, either through direct investment or operational shifts or through emissions trading where states, which must establish emission standards for affected EGUs, do so by incorporating emissions trading. However, as will be noted later in this proposal, there are many methods of emissions reduction, and the EPA recognizes that states have a variety of circumstances that may effect methodology.

Who will take these actions?

Each state will determine whether to apply these to each affected EGU or to take an alternative approach and meet either an equivalent statewide rate-based goal or statewide mass-based goal.

The EPA does not prescribe how a state must meet the emission guidelines, but, if a state chooses to take the path of meeting a state goal, these final guidelines identify the methods that a state can or, in some cases, must use to demonstrate that the combination of measures and standards that the state adopts meets its state-level CO2 goals.

Vermont and the District of Columbia will be exempt from submitting a state plan because they do not have affected EGUs. Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico will also be exempt from submitting a plan due to the lack of analytical tools and data.

Where will these actions be taken?

These actions will be taken within the power sector of states in the United States.

What are other key benefits?

  1. Nationwide, by 2030, this final CAA section 111(d) existing source rule will achieve CO2 emission reductions from the utility power sector of approximately 32 percent from CO2 emission levels in 2005. 
  2. States will have the flexibility to choose from a range of plan approaches and measures, including numerous measures beyond those considered in setting the CO2 emission performance rates, and this final rule allows and encourages states to adopt the most effective set of solutions for their circumstances, taking account of cost and other considerations.
  3. States, in their CAA section 111(d) plans, will be able to rely on, and extend, programs they may already have created to address emissions of air pollutants, and in particular CO2, from the utility power sector or to address the sector from an overall perspective.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The costs of this proposal are extremely minimal. According to the EPA this proposal will result in two things:

  1. The achievement of the required emission reductions will not compromise the reliability of our electric system, or the affordability of electricity for consumers.
  2. These reductions earlier mentioned, along with reductions in other air pollutants resulting directly from this rule, will result in net climate and health benefits of $25 billion to $45 billion in 2030.


Time line

The final rule provides up to fifteen years for full implementation of all emission reduction measures, with incremental steps for planning and then for demonstration of CO2 reductions that will ensure that progress is being made in achieving CO2 emission reductions.

EPA is establishing an eight-year interim period, beginning in 2022 instead of 2020, over which to achieve the full required reductions to meet the CO2 performance rates, a commencement date more than six years from the date of rulemaking of the US Clean Power Plan.

Related proposals


This proposal is a summary of the US Clean Power Plan by the Executive Office of the President of the United States: