August 2019 Vol. 74 No. 8


EPA Finalizes Affordable Clean Energy Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the final Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, replacing the prior administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) with a new rule that empowers states to reduce emissions, while providing affordable and reliable energy for all Americans.

This action was the culmination of a review of the CPP, which was done in response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13873–Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. It also follows challenges from many states, trade associations, rural electric co-ops, and labor unions that argued the CPP exceeded EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, and an unprecedented stay of the CPP by the Supreme Court in 2016.

“Today, we are delivering on one of President Trump’s core priorities: ensuring the American public has access to affordable, reliable energy in a manner that continues our nation’s environmental progress,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Unlike the Clean Power Plan, ACE adheres to the Clean Air Act and gives states the regulatory certainty they need to continue to reduce emissions and provide a dependable, diverse supply of electricity that all Americans can afford. When ACE is fully implemented, we expect to see U.S. power sector CO2 emissions fall by as much as 35 percent below 2005 levels.”

The ACE rule establishes emissions guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) at their coal-fired power plants. It identifies heat rate improvements as the best system of emission reduction (BSER), and that these improvements can be made at individual facilities. States will have three years to submit plans, which is in line with other planning timelines under the Clean Air Act.

Also contained within the rule are new implementing regulations for ACE and future existing-source rules under Clean Air Act Section 111(d). These guidelines will inform states as they set unit-specific standards of performance, for example, considering a particular source’s remaining useful life and other factors.

EPA projects that ACE will result in annual net benefits of $120 million to $730 million, including costs, domestic climate benefits and health co-benefits. ACE, along with additional expected emissions reductions based on long-term industry trends, is expected to decrease CO2 emissions from the electric sector in 2030 by as much as 35 percent below 2005 levels.

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