HomeWashington Letter2018 ▶ EPA Issues New Proposed Rules on Carbon Pollution Emissions for Power Plants
EPA Issues New Proposed Rules on Carbon Pollution Emissions for Power Plants

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally released its proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan with the Affordable Clean Energy Rule. When implemented, this rule will essentially keep carbon emissions from power plants constant, by aiming for a trivial 25-year decrease of only 0.7 to 1.5 percent by 2030. By contrast, the plan developed by the EPA during the Obama Administration would reduce carbon pollution by 19 percent to 32 percent over the same time period. 

This shockingly inadequate plan to “regulate” carbon pollution fails to respond to the urgent crisis climate change poses to the nation. The plan unveiled by the EPA appears more tailored to protect coal-fired power plants than to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from U.S power plants.

Not only does the plan result in only miniscule reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, it also continues the emissions of other major air pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, mercury, and other heavy metal emissions.

The proposal would reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions – precursors to dangerous particulate matter pollution – by 1 to 2 percent by 2030 from the 2005 level. The Clean Power Plan would have reduced SOx emissions by 24 percent and NOx emissions by 22 percent. 

“The continued emissions of carbon pollution and dangerous co-pollutants like SOx and NOx will have real and measurable adverse health effects on the patients I treat,” says ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee Chair Mary B Rice, MD. “Like many health professionals, I am extremely disappointed in the policy direction the U.S. EPA has taken on climate change.”

The ATS is also concerned that the proposed rule applies a “threshold effect” when developing cost/benefit estimates for proposal rules. EPA assumes that reducing particulate matter pollution below the current standard will not yield additional health benefits. This “threshold effect” assumption is not supported by science, and its application to the cost/benefit estimates artificially reduces the economic value of reducing air pollution emissions.

Last Reviewed: August 24, 2018