May 01, 2016

The Clean Power Plan stay: Are states placing their pencils down?

Shannon S. Broome

On February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5–4 order in which it stayed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) implementation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) pending eventual consideration by the Supreme Court. EPA, Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units; Final Rule, 80 Fed. Reg. 64,662 (Oct. 23, 2015). The CPP establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions, and EPA states that the rule will reduce national electricity sector emissions by an estimated 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The CPP provides options to cut carbon emissions and determines state emissions reduction targets by estimating the extent to which states can take advantage of each of them. Targets differ from state to state because of each state’s unique mix of electricity-generation resources—and also because of technological feasibilities, costs, and emissions reduction potentials, all of which vary across the country. The CPP set a deadline of September 6, 2016, for states to submit final plans on how they will meet their CPP targets or, alternatively, an initial plan with a request for an extension until no later than September 6, 2018.

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