Readers may have heard by now of the Clean Power Plan, which is a set of standards developed under the Clean Air Act geared toward reducing air pollution. At present, power plants have no restrictions on the amount of carbon pollution they contribute to the atmosphere. The Clean Power Plan aims to change the situation by establishing carbon emissions reductions on states.
The standards are structured so that states have flexibility in reducing emissions over time. Because each state will have unique challenges in implementing those standards, the proposal allows for different ways states and regions may work toward improving their emissions compliance. By 2030, it is hoped, the standards will reduce power plant emissions by half.
Unsurprisingly, the proposal is not without critics. Among them is Tennessee Valley Authority, which services parts of Georgia and various other states in the region. TVA says the biggest concern is that imposing carbon emissions reductions on states will increase utility costs because it will make the grid less reliable. Southern Co., based in Atlanta, has pointed out that there are also serious questions about how the standards will be enforced since there are so many layers of oversight.
For power companies and the regulatory bodies that oversee them, compliance with the plan—in whatever final form it takes—is going to be a challenge. Having a thorough understanding of the standards and the most efficient ways to implement them will be critical to helping states make the transition. Environmental law attorneys will, no doubt, be called upon to provide their expertise and guidance throughout the process of implementing the Clean Power Plan.
Source: E&E Publishing, LLC, “How will Clean Power Plan compliance be tracked?,” Kristi E. Swartz, April 2, 2015.
Union of Concerned Scientists, “The Clean Power Plan: A Climate Game Changer,” Accessed April 6, 2015.