Summary of the Clean Power Plan

What was the Clean Power Plan?

The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was a federal rule finalized in August 2015 under the Obama Administration that aimed to reduce carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector in the U.S. and required states to create plans to achieve these emissions reductions. A 2007 Supreme Court ruling provided legal standing for EPA to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.

EPA identified three likely means for states to reduce carbon emissions, called “building blocks” and established individual targets for each state based on its particular mix of affected emissions sources. In aggregate, the targets called for a 32% reduction in carbon emissions from the U.S. electricity sector by 2030 relative to 2005 levels. The building blocks identified by EPA were as follows:

Building Block 1: Improving the efficiency of coal and oil-fired power plants

Building Block 2: Swapping out coal-fired plants for lower-emitting natural gas plants

Building Block 3: Substituting zero-emitting sources (like wind and solar) for coal plants

What was the status of the Clean Power Plan?

The Supreme Court stayed (i.e., delayed) implementation of the Clean Power Plan in February of 2016 due to legal challenges by some states arguing the CPP exceeded EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act. The Trump Administration proposed a repeal of the CPP in October 2017. In a separate but closely-related action, EPA has proposed replacing the CPP with a proposal that is more limited in scope: the Affordable Clean Energy rule.