On June 2, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced its proposed regulation to require existing power plants to reduce their emission of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds (often referred to as “greenhouse gases”) that contribute to global warming and climate change. The proposed rule was published in the June 18, 2014, Federal Register, starting on page 34829; the Web site for searching the Federal Register is https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/search. From that publication date, the proposed regulation had an initial 120-day public-comment period, until October 16, 2014, but in an October 23, 2014, “Notice of Date Availability” (see links below under “Documents from EPA”), the agency extended the public-comment deadline until December 1, 2014. The EPA intends to publish a final version, with responses to the public comments it receives, by June 2015.
According to the proposal, the regulation aims by 2030 to cut annual carbon emissions from the power sector by 26 to 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels; EPA also predicts that it would result in a “co-benefit” of a 25-percent or more cut in emissions of particles, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, substances that have impacts on human health (such as asthma) and on water resources when they are deposited into water bodies. The EPA’s news release on the proposal states that the regulation would be implemented “through a state-federal partnership under which states identify a path forward using either current or new electricity production and pollution control policies to meet the goals of the proposed program.” Under the proposed rule, states would have individual emission-reduction levels (the approximately 30-percent level is for the nation as a whole; the individual state goals are given in Section VII of the proposed rule, starting on page 332.) States would have until 2016 (with possible 1-2 year extensions) to submit to EPA their plans for implementing the regulation. States would be allowed to “choose a mix of generation using diverse fuels, energy efficiency, and demand-side management to meet the goals and their own needs.” States would be allowed to develop individual plans or to combine their plans with other states.
An interactive map of power-generating plants in the mid-Atlantic region (including Virginia)—allowing users to click on a location to see emissions of carbon dioxide and gases—is available from the EPA at http://www.epa.gov/reg3artd/globclimate/r3pplants.html.
A July 2014 report assessing what large electric-utility companies are already doing in the areas of energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources (two of the four main ways the EPA proposes that state reduce carbon emissions) is available online at http://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/benchmarking-utility-clean-energy-deployment-2014.
The proposed regulation on existing power plants follows EPA’s release in September 2013 (January 2014 publication in the Federal Register) of a proposed rule on carbon emissions from new power-generating sources; the public-comment period for that proposal ended May 9, 2014 (extended from the original deadline of January 8, 2014). The September proposal replaced a March 27, 2012, proposal that received some 2.5 million comments from the public. The regulatory actions on new and existing plants both come under Section 111 of the federal Clean Air Act. Information from the EPA on the agency’s overall program on carbon emissions is available online at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/what-epa-doing#overview. The EPA actions are part of the federal government’s response to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, announced on June 25, 2013. White House information on that plan is available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan.
Documents from EPA:
Clean Power Proposed Rule, online at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule.
EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants, U.S. EPA News Release, 6/2/14.
Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule Notice of Data Availability, online at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule-notice-data-availability, 10/28/14.
EPA Provides Additional Information on Clean Power Plan/Agency requests public comment on additional information and proposes carbon goals for areas in Indian Country and U.S. Territories, News Release, 10/28/14.
Commonwealth of Virginia documents:
Virginia comments submitted 11/14/14 to EPA on the draft regulation: http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Air/Planning/vacommentstoepa.pdf (16 pages).
News accounts on the proposal and related matters, since 6/3/14:
Virginia, Coal Country for Centuries, Now Embraces Carbon Regulations, Inside Climate News, 6/16/15.
Virginia weighs joining [regional] carbon market under EPA rules, Washington Examiner, 5/12/15.
Central Va. electric utilities react to EPA guidelines, Lynchburg News & Advance, 12/10/14. [The article reports on comments submitted to EPA by Appalachian Power Company (American Electric Power), Dominion Power, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, and Southside Electric Cooperative.]
[Virginia Attorney General Mark] Herring urges changes to EPA emissions proposal, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/2/14.
[Virginia U.S. Senator Tim] Kaine asks EPA to give Va. credit in carbon rules, Newport News Daily Press, 12/2/14.
Dominion Virginia Power customers could see bills rise 30 percent by 2025 to meet EPA plan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/19/14; and Lawmakers express concerns over proposed EPA rules Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/19/14. [Both articles report on the 11/19/14 meeting of joint meeting of the Commerce and Labor committees of the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia Senate, to hear from agency staff and others on details of proposed regulations.]
Groups rallying in Va. to support Clean Power Plan, [rally by environmental groups at State Capitol on November 19, 2014], Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/19/14.
Virginia DEQ says proposed carbon emission rules unfair to the state, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/15/14.
McAuliffe applauds EPA’s carbon intent, questions details, Daily Press, 11/14/14.
Va. groups to present clean power comments, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/12/14.
Scientists offer help on Va. carbon reduction goal, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/11/14 [Fifteen Va. scientists’ letter to Gov. McCauliffe offering help on meeting federal carbon-reduction goals].
SCC [State Corporation Commission] staff says Virginia electricity will cost ‘significantly more’ under proposed EPA carbon rules, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/16/14.
Virginia power plants not among the 100 ‘dirtiest’ polluters, Daily Press, 9/19/14 [Environment Virginia report on carbon emissions by Virginia power plants and those in other states].
Carbon capturing about ready for prime time, experts say, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/8/14 [part of a series on carbon capture and sequestration].
New EPA rule seeks to cut carbon emissions 30% by 2030, Los Angeles Times, 6/1/14.
Obama Orders Pollution Cuts—But Timing Uncertain, Associated Press, as published by ABC News, 6/2/14.
EPA proposes cutting carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants 30% by 2030, Washington Post, 6/2/14.
Everything you need to know about the EPA’s proposed rule on coal plants, Washington Post, 6/2/14.
Taking Page from Health Care Act, Obama Climate Plan Relies on States, New York Times, 6/2/14.
Dominion analyzes Obama power plant rules, Kingsport [Tenn.] Times News, 6/2/14.
[West Va. Gov.] Tomblin: ‘Our worst fears’; power companies studying it, Charleston Gazette, 6/2/14.
Latest EPA rules signal a bleaker future for coal, Arizona Republic [Phoenix], 6/2/14.
Carbon-cutting plan seen as historic, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/3/14.
Regulations’ impact on electric rates is unclear, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/3/14.
Obama climate rule promises early health benefits, Chicago Tribune, 6/3/14.