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What Does the EPA Rule on 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), is aimed at reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution from existing power plants in the U.S. by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, according to Dr. Jonathan Dorn, a scientist at Abt Global who supported EPA in developing the rule.

“Power plants are currently responsible for one-third of the carbon dioxide pollution that the U.S. pumps into the atmosphere,” Dorn said, adding that “carbon dioxide is the main driver of human-induced climate change” and that reducing carbon dioxide pollution is an essential step toward mitigating climate change.

Abt Global in partnership with Radium Consulting Group 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, along with Radium, used the eGRID data aggregation methodology to help EPA develop the state-level CO2 emission rate baselines for the new rule, which established the first-ever CO2 emissions standards for existing power plants in the United States.

Explaining that the standards are based on improvements in efficiency of coal-fired power plants, using more renewables and improving the end-use efficiency of such things as appliances, buildings and lighting, Dorn said the Clean Power Plan “will stimulate a decline in coal-fired electricity generation and an increase in renewable energy sources.”  He added that it will create traction, credibility and respect for the U.S. as the world begins seeing that the U.S. is committed to reducing its CO2 footprint and addressing climate change. 

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