EPA releases Clean Power Plan

By Erin Voegele | September 25, 2015

In early August, the U.S. EPA released the Clean Power Plan final rule. In addition to including some key changes when compared to the proposed rule, the plan contains vague language related to using certain kinds of biomass fuel as a carbon reduction method.

The rule calls on each state to craft its own plan based on policy and resources of its choosing, and is designed to provide flexibility in meeting goals set by the EPA, which vary by state. The final rule requires existing power plants to reduce carbon pollution by an average of 32 percent by 2030, a 9 percent target increase from the proposed 30 percent.

The final rule also allows states a two-year extension to submit plans, if needed. States requesting an extension will have until September 2018 to submit final plans either alone or in cooperation with other states. The final rule also includes several measures to provide more flexibility to states and utilities.

While the proposed rule suggested biomass power may play an important role in achieving carbon reduction goals, the final rule does not provide certainty on how biogenic emissions will be treated. Rather, that will be largely determined by the EPA’s yet-to-be-completed accounting framework for biogenic carbon emissions.