The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan was published in the Federal Register today, triggering a 60-day appeals period. Petitioners will have until December 22, 2015, to file appeals of the Clean Power Plan in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit. Industry groups and at least 25 states, many with large coal interests, have already filed challenges to the Clean Power Plan.

Also published today were EPA’s standards of performance for CO2 emissions for new fossil fuel-fired power plants, initiating a 60-day appeals period that runs until December 22, 2015.

The Clean Power Plan calls for reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. Under the Clean Power Plan, states are required to develop their own plans to achieve those reductions and to submit those plans to EPA for approval. States must submit their initial plans to EPA by September 6, 2016, and may request an extension for submitting a final plan until September 2018. If a state does not submit its plan, or submits an inadequate plan, EPA will impose a federal plan on the state based upon model rules that EPA also proposed today, and which are now open for public comment. Comments on the proposed model rules are due by January 21, 2016. 

In the Clean Power Plan, EPA has identified CO2 emissions performance rates for existing power plants and translated those rates into “goals”—expressed as a total mass of emissions in tons of CO2 or as a rate in pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour—for each state. In developing state-specific plans to achieve the goals, states must decide, among other things, whether to adopt standards of performance for power plants in their states in the form of a rate or in terms of a mass tonnage limit, and whether to engage in trading programs with other states. These plans will be phased in incrementally between 2022 and 2030. By 2030, the plans are expected to achieve a 32 percent reduction in aggregate CO2 emissions from power plants from 2005 levels. 

Many states have begun developing plans and initiating stakeholder processes to solicit input.  Interested parties are actively participating in those processes to protect their interests while helping their state craft a plan that meets its federal obligations. Even states that challenge the rule on appeal may proceed to develop a plan in order to avoid imposition of a federal plan.

Publication of the Clean Power Plan is the latest step in the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan, and today’s action will figure significantly in the President’s effort to secure international commitments to reduce emissions at the climate talks in Paris at the end of November.

Ballard Spahr’s Environment and Natural Resources Group has extensive experience helping clients educate state and federal regulators as they develop rules affecting the clients’ businesses. The Group also advises on federal and state compliance, permitting, development, business planning, and contamination matters arising in connection with environmental and natural resources laws and claims, and includes a particular focus on climate change and sustainability. For more information, please contact Brendan K. Collins at 215.864.8106 or, Ronald M. Varnum at 215.864.8416 or, or Lorene L. Boudreau at 215.864.8245 or

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