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What Does the EPA Plan for Existing Power Plant Emissions Mean for the U.S. Power Sector?

The Clean Power Plan, recently released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sets the first ever limits on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants. The state-level targets established by the plan are expected to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution from existing power plants in the U.S. by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

“Power plants are responsible for more than one-third of the carbon dioxide pollution that the U.S. pumps into the atmosphere,” said Dr. Jonathan Dorn, a scientist at Abt Global who supported EPA in developing the plan. That is more than the emissions from every car, truck and plane in the U.S. combined. “Carbon dioxide is the main driver of human-induced climate change, so reducing carbon dioxide pollution is an essential step toward mitigating climate change.”

Abt Global developed EPA’s Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID), which provides users with a comprehensive source of data on the environmental characteristics of virtually all electric power generated in the United States. Abt used the eGRID data aggregation methodology to help EPA develop state-level CO2 emission rate baselines for the plan. EPA used these baseline rates to establish the final targets set forth in the final plan.

The plan’s targets are based on improvements in efficiency of coal-fired power plants, shifting electricity generation from higher-emitting fossil fuel-fired steam power plants to lower-emitting natural gas-fired power plants and using more zero-emitting renewable energy sources like wind and solar, Dorn said.

“The Clean Power Plan will stimulate a decline in coal-fired electricity generation and an increase in renewable energy sources,” Dorn said. It will create traction, credibility, and respect for the U.S. in the upcoming climate talks in Paris as the world begins seeing that the U.S. is committed to reducing its CO2 footprint and addressing climate change, he said.

Read more about Abt’s eGRID work

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