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EPA issues final affordable clean energy rule

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World Coal,

On 19 June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the final affordable clean energy (ACE) rule – replacing the prior administration’s overreaching Clean Power Plan (CPP) with a rule that restores the rule of law and empowers states to continue to reduce emissions while providing affordable and reliable energy for all Americans.

These actions are 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. The actions also follow challenges from a large number of states, trade associations, rural electric co-ops, and labour unions who argued that the CPP exceeded EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, and an unprecedented stay of the CPP by the Supreme Court in 2016.

“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 US power sector CO2 emissions fall by as much as 35% below 2005 levels.”

The ACE rule establishes emissions guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit CO2 at their coal-fired power plants. Specifically, ACE identifies heat rate improvements as the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for CO2 from coal-fired power plants, and 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, states can take a particular source’s remaining useful life and other factors into account when establishing a standard of performance for that source.

ACE will reduce emissions of CO2, mercury, as well as precursors for pollutants such as fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone.

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