EPA Issues Final Affordable Clean Energy Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has 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.

The EPA’s 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 labor 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.

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, the EPA expects to see U.S. power sector CO2 emissions fall by as much as 35 percent below 2005 levels.

Speaking on behalf of the nation’s mining industry, National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn applauded the EPA’s new rule, “In this rule, the EPA has accomplished what eluded the prior administration: providing a clear, legal pathway to reduce emissions while preserving states’ authority over their own grids,” He said.

The ACE rule establishes emissions guidelines for states to use when developing plans to limit carbon dioxide (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 3 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.

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

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