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New Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rule

What does it mean, and how does it work?

What is the “111(d)” Power Plant Rule, and why is it important? 
  • On June 2nd the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed rules to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. The rules are projected to result in emission reductions from the electric power sector of roughly 30 percent by 2030, relative to 2005 levels.
  • Electric power plants are the largest source of global warming pollution in the U.S., emitting 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year that is 40 percent of the U.S. total;
  • A substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants is necessary to meaningfully and appropriately reduce the U.S. contribution to global warming, thereby protecting our climate and oceans. This proposed rule has the potential to significantly reduce emissions.
  • The Clean Air Act (CAA) gives the President the authority to require greenhouse gas emissions reductions using tools that have been successfully used to protect air quality and reduce smog and soot pollution from 70 industrial categories over the last 45-years. These rules have been proposed following Section 111(d) of the CAA. 
How will these rules work? 
  • States, not the federal government, will lead in implementing the proposed rule. Specific power plant rules will not be designed in Washington, D.C. Rather, under the CAA Section 111(d), the proposed rule provides the general framework and enables states to develop their own state-based implementation plans.
  • Each state will have the flexibility to implement the rule in an appropriate manner: In addition to being state-led, the rule gives states wide latitude under the Clean Air Act to use the policy tools best suited to their unique circumstances to meet the national goal. The rule has been designed to maximize the flexibility afforded to the states, which enhances opportunities for innovation, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency
  • The proposed rule is considered by many to be feasible because it comes at a transformational moment in the U.S. energy sector. New technologies in shale gas production, idle capacity for the generation of electricity by natural gas, rapidly falling prices for wind and solar power, and underutilized opportunities for greater energy efficiency give the U.S. an opportunity to achieve very substantial reductions in power plant emissions now at relatively low cost and help position the U.S. for global competitiveness in clean energy innovations. 
What is TNC working on around this rule? 
  • In those states where The Nature Conservancy can make a meaningful and appropriate contribution, we are helping leaders in the public and private sectors achieve outcomes required under the proposed rule. This begins with the state planning processes. Encouraging cleaner and more efficient generation of electric power in the United States is essential for addressing the unprecedented challenge of global warming while enhancing innovation and cost-effectiveness. The Nature Conservancy therefore welcomes opportunities to help decision makers reduce emissions from electricity generation.

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