Last week the EPA released the much anticipated final rules for greenhouse gas emissions both new and existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) sets a nationwide goal of cutting carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030 and each state will be responsible for crafting a plan to meet their own state-specific goal assigned by EPA. States will have about one year to create a compliance plan, although a time extension of up to two years is likely to be granted, if requested.
The final rules did incorporate some significant changes from the 2014 proposal primarily designed to strengthen the rule against legal challenges, provide guidance to states on how to craft plans to meet the requirements of the rarely used 111(d) provision, and more uniformly set state goals across the nation by adjusting the baseline calculations and final targets. States now have two additional years, until 2022, to meet their interim goal. Overall, the plan is more aggressively driving early deployment of renewable generation, while coal and natural gas are expected to take a greater hit. And while the final rule will give states credit for nuclear generation currently under construction, the existing, carbon-free, nuclear fleet was not considered in baseline assessments.
So what does this mean for Pennsylvania? First and foremost, unlike other states that are planning to oppose the rule, Governor Wolf is publicly supporting the rule and directed staff to begin assessing compliance options. In fact, Pennsylvania is one of four states engaged with the National Governors Association Policy Academy to evaluate cost-effective strategies to meet CPP requirements. Compared with other states’ reduction targets, Pennsylvania’s goal falls in the middle and is similar to that of other Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. As both a manufacturing center and net exporter of electricity, Pennsylvania will face additional challenges in meeting the target.
The impacts of such a sweeping rule will be better understood as more analysis on the details emerges and as states begin to develop compliance plans. At the same time, expect some interesting legal battles to emerge contesting EPA’s regulatory boundaries.
See what others are saying about the final rule: