Clean Power Plan Compliance ‘Within Reach’ for Litigating Power Companies, Report Says

coal power plant

by | Sep 27, 2016

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coal power plantThe Clean Power Plan is in court today with both sides presenting oral arguments on the carbon pollution rules to the full US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

The legal challenge comes from 27 states and dozens of industry groups that argue the Clean Power Plan will lead to unreliable energy supplies and be too costly for US businesses. Meanwhile analysis released yesterday from Environmental Defense Fund says compliance with the rules, which require existing coal-burning power plants to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, is within reach for litigating companies.

The power companies, for their part, have argued that while they support emissions reductions, they oppose the rule because it oversteps the authority given to the EPA under the Clean Air Act.

“America’s oil and natural gas industry invests more in zero- and low-emissions technologies than the federal government and nearly as much as all other industries combined,” said Howard J. Feldman, American Petroleum Institute senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs in a statement about the Clean Power Plan. “With or without new regulations, natural gas will continue to grow as a critical source of clean energy, but the EPA’s rule does more harm than good.”

EDF’s analysis examines several power companies that have sued to overturn the Clean Power Plan, including Southern Company, American Electric Power, Big Rivers Electric Corporation and Tri-State Generation & Transmission.

It finds:

  • Overall, power sector emissions of climate pollution are already 21 percent below 2005 levels. As a result, the sector is already two-thirds of the way towards meeting the 2030 emissions reduction requirements of the Clean Power Plan.
  • Even though these companies are opposing the Clean Power Plan in court, they are already using a variety of approaches to drive significant cost-effective reductions in climate pollution from their existing fossil-fuel powered units, thanks in large part to favorable economics for lower and zero-carbon generation.
  • These are the same practical, cost-effective methods that EPA identified as the “best system” of emission reduction for climate pollution from power plants, and that formed the basis for the emission limits in the Clean Power Plan.
  • With these investment decisions, power companies are well positioned to comply with the Clean Power Plan, even though they are making claims to the contrary in court.

The EDF report follows two studies released last week that suggest the Clean Power Plan will make manufacturers more competitive, not less as manufacturing and other industry groups have argued.


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