States’ implementation of EPA’s Clean Power Plan: What are the prospects and options?
In August 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its state-specific emission guidelines for carbon dioxide emitted from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. On February 9th, the Supreme Court ordered the Obama administration not to take any steps to carry out its Clean Power Plan, a development that may delay progress on the rule until after the president leaves office next January. In addition, the court’s stay may indicate legal hurdles facing parts of the rule. EPA, states, and utilities must decide how to proceed. EPA has given states significant flexibility in how they achieve their targets, and states can continue work on implementation plans that balance the objectives of compliance, reliability, affordability, cross-state coordination, safety, and efficient long term low-carbon capital investment in the sector. States’ nearer term strategies could influence the evolution of the electricity sector for decades to come, well past the targeted 32 percent reduction in 2030 emissions from the sector relative to levels in 2005. This raises the question of how states should keep the potential for deeper decarbonization post-2030 in mind as they make plans for the next decade or so.
On February 22, Economic Studies at Brookings hosted an event to discuss theses issues. Presenters and panelists took questions from the audience.