Controlling carbon pollution from our nation’s power plants
What is the Clean Power Plan?
The Clean Power Plan rule was finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on August 3, 2015. The rule reduces carbon dioxide pollution from existing coal, oil, and gas-fired power plants in the U.S. by setting state-specific CO2 emission targets that each state is required to meet, beginning in 2022.
States have considerable flexibility in determining how they will meet EPA’s targets, and are encouraged to consider increasing their use of renewable and lower-carbon energy and making more energy efficiency measures available to consumers as well as regulated power plants.
For more information on the final rule, visit the EPA's Clean Power Plan webpage.
Why did the EPA issue the Clean Power Plan?
The Clean Power Plan is one of several EPA strategies to address climate change by targeting greenhouse gas pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, and fossil fuel-fired power plants are the largest source of CO2 emissions in the U.S. The Clean Power Plan is expected to help cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 32% from 2005 levels.
Why is this important?
The impacts of climate change are serious and wide-ranging, affecting water quality and availability, crops, air quality, intensity of weather events, wildfires, and virtually all aspects of life on the planet. Severe-weather disasters in 2012 cost the American economy more than $100 billion. In 2013, Minnesota had some of the highest weather-related disaster claims in the country, even topping some tornado- and hurricane-prone states. For more information on climate change and its impacts on Minnesotans, visit the Minnesota and Climate Change website.
Who is affected by the Clean Power Plan?
The Clean Power Plan regulates existing coal and natural gas power plants. States have flexibility in how to apply the Clean Power Plan regulations to the fossil-fuel power plants in their state. State plans could address only the fossil fuel-fired power plants immediately targeted by EPA or could incorporate broader goals for clean energy producers, such as wind and solar generation and energy efficiency programs. Minnesota and other states will develop plans that attempt to minimize costs and concerns about electricity reliability while meeting the Clean Power Plan requirements to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel power plants.
What is Minnesota doing?
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, because the following strategies have been successful in Minnesota:
- Making existing plants cleaner and more efficient
- Relying more on natural gas and less on coal for energy production
- Promoting greater use of renewable energy resources
- Encouraging energy conservation
Minnesota’s Clean Power Plan
In the final version of the Clean Power Plan rule, the EPA establishes Minnesota’s rate of CO2 emissions in 2012 as a baseline and provides the state with a choice of using a rate-based program (expressed in tons per megawatt-hour) or a mass-based program (expressed in tons per year) to achieve a significant reduction in the CO2 emissions rate by 2030.
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 delivering CO2 emissions reductions 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.
Rulemaking: Request for comment
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has already begun its rulemaking process that will lay the groundwork for a state plan. A Request for Comment was published on August 3, 2015, seeking public input on a number of Clean Power Plan-related topics, including environmental results, electricity system impacts, multi-state collaborative approaches, equity concerns, and other issues.
The EPA’s rule requires that states submit initial plans by September 6, 2016, and final plans by September 6, 2018.
For more information
For additional information on the MPCA efforts, visit the Clean Power Plan webpage, or contact:
- Katie Izzo, MPCA Rule Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-757-2595, for information on MPCA’s request for comment or other rulemaking questions
- Melissa Kuskie, MPCA Clean Power Plan Coordinator, email@example.com, 651-757-2512, for all other Clean Power Plan questions