Charting a Path Forward
Steve Weiler, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Stinson Leonard Street, represents energy companies in regulatory proceedings, litigation, and transactional matters.
After Congress failed to pass cap-and-trade legislation in 2010, the president developed a regulatory route to reduce carbon emissions that would bypass Capitol Hill. In a presidential memorandum he issued on June 25, 2013, he directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "to use your authority under sections 111(b) and 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to ... address carbon pollution from modified, reconstructed, and existing power plants" by issuing proposed regulations by June 1, 2014 and final regulations no later than June 1, 2015. EPA complied, issuing a proposed rulemaking, entitled Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, but commonly referred to as the "Clean Power Plan."1
EPA's plan seeks by 2030 to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing generating units (EGUs) by
30 percent from 2005 levels.2 Beginning on an interim basis in 2020, the CO2 emissions reductions would hasten the retirement of significant amounts of generation capacity from a variety of different sources, while promoting increased use on natural gas-fired and renewable energy generation, as well as decreased consumption due to demand-side efficiency.