Clean Power Plan 101

In June 2019, U.S. EPA adopted the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which replaces the Clean Power Plan.

Windfarm illustration

Clean power plan repeal 

On October 16, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan. You can find more information on the EPA’s efforts to repeal the Clean Power Plan on their website. Governor Mark Dayton released the following statement in response to EPA’s actions:

“The Trump Administration’s constant assault on our environment will not diminish Minnesotans’ resolve to build a vibrant clean energy economy. We will not allow President Trump to stand in the way, as we do everything in our power to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that threaten our health and our environment... We must do more to ensure our children and grandchildren inherit a better future, and an even stronger clean energy economy.”

EPA is also considering replacing the Clean Power Plan with a new rule to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants. Learn more on their website.

The MPCA’s work on developing a rule to comply with the Clean Power Plan is suspended while the federal government clarifies its plans for regulating power-sector CO2 emissions.


What is the Clean Power Plan?

In 2015 the EPA came out with the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to draw up plans for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) which is one of the major greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.  The Clean Power Plan is one of several national efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.  Minnesota was already doing a lot, and is well on the way toward meeting the Plan’s requirements. But there are still some important goals to set and decisions to make before we can submit a plan to EPA.  

Coal- and gas-fired utilities are the largest source of CO2 in the US, and the Clean Power Plan is focused primarily on them. States have flexibility in determining how to meet EPA’s targets.  States can decide whether and by how much to make existing power plants more efficient and increase their use of renewables, energy conservation, and lower-carbon energy sources.  The end goal, no matter how we choose to do it, is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change.

The Clean Power Plan and the Supreme Court

On February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay that temporarily halts the implementation of the Clean Power Plan while legal challenges to the rule are decided by the courts. Governor Mark Dayton released the following statement on February 10, 2016:

“While the Court’s temporary stay is disappointing, it does nothing to diminish our resolve in Minnesota to keep moving forward on clean energy initiatives, including the development of our state’s Clean Power Plan. President Obama’s strong leadership, the nation-leading initiatives of some of our state’s utilities, and my administration's commitment will assure our state’s continued progress. 

We shouldn't need a federal edict to understand how vital it is that we keep doing everything in our collective powers to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and advance Minnesota’s clean energy economy.”

What does it mean for Minnesota?

Minnesota is a national leader in reducing carbon pollution from the utility sector and increasing the use of renewables. Minnesota’s approach to reducing CO2 emissions was one of the models EPA used in creating the Clean Power Plan, due largely to our success in:

  • Making existing plants cleaner and more efficient
  • Promoting greater use of renewable energy resources
  • Encouraging energy conservation
  • Relying more on natural gas and less on coal for electricity production.

Minnesota’s clean energy track record puts us in good shape to meet the requirements of the Clean Power Plan, with existing state energy policies already reducing CO2 emissions now and into the future. However, we know we’ll need to do more, and we have begun work to develop a state plan that will comply with the EPA rule.

Explore our website to learn more about the Clean Power Plan, climate change, and what it all means for Minnesotans.  And please take a moment to let us hear your thoughts and tell us what matters most to you as we design a plan that benefits all Minnesotans!

Translated information on the Clean Power Plan in Minnesota is available below. Contact to request additional translated materials. 

PDF icon The Clean Power Plan/Plan de Energía Limpia (aq4-43)

PDF icon Clean Power Plan comments/El Plan de Energía Limpia comentarios (aq4-42)