First Look: EPA Proposed Rule Repealing Clean Power Plan

The Policy

What it does

Repeals Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). 


On October 16, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Proposed Rule entitled “Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emissions Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units.”

The Proposed Rule would repeal the existing proposed regulations promulgated under the Obama administration and known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). These regulations are currently on hold pending court rulings. The proposed repeal is based on a changed legal interpretation, contained in the Proposed Rule, of the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) from power plants. The Obama administration’s CPP relies on three methods (referred to as “building blocks”) to reduce GHGE: 1) making changes to coal plants such that they emit less GHGE per unit of electricity generated 2) replacing coal electricity with natural gas electricity and 3) replacing fossil fuel electricity with renewable energy electricity. The changed legal interpretation would invalidate the use of building blocks two and three and therefore render the entire CPP unattainable. The Proposed Rule suggests that the EPA will re-evaluate regulation of GHGE after repealing the CPP and also proposes several changes to cost-benefit analysis methodology that are likely to be used in the formulation of future GHGE regulations. The cost-benefit changes would result in higher estimated costs and lower estimated benefits from the reduction of GHGE.


The Science

The Debate