EPA abandons Clean Power Plan, saying reinstatement “would not make sense”

February 16, 2021

A memo acquired by E&E News reveals the Biden administration is moving on from the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

The memo from acting EPA assistant administrator Joseph Goffman told EPA regional administrators that administration would not reinstate the plan after a federal judge threw out a Trump administration air pollution plan and its repeal of the CPP on the final full day of the Trump’s presidency.

“As a practical matter, the reinstatement of the CPP would not make sense,” Goffman wrote. “The deadline for states to submit State Plans under the CPP has already passed and, in any event, ongoing changes in electricity generation mean that the emission reduction goals that the CPP set for 2030 have already been achieved. Therefore, EPA does not expect states to take any further action to develop and submit plans under [Clean Air Act] section 111(d) with respect to [greenhouse gas] emissions from [electric generating units] at this time.”

The Clean Power Plan was a regulation that sought to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by imposing federal emissions limits on carbon dioxide emissions. The restrictions would also reduce the levels of several other harmful criteria pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

Several states sued after the plan was finalized. The U.S. Supreme Court issued an administrative stay, and the plan was in limbo.

The Trump administration unveiled its own plan, the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, that gave more power to states to regulate emissions and repealed the CPP.

A federal appeals court threw out the rule and its repeal of the CPP, saying the plan was based on a mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act that “misconceived the law” by only regulating emissions reductions at the source and not using the “best system” available, as stated in the law, to reduce emissions.

Currently, there is no federal rule limiting climate pollution from power plants.

The Biden administration has not yet proposed its own emissions plan, but the administration has said it plans to achieve a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan mentions enforcement mechanisms, which could be part of the new administration’s plans.

EPA abandons Clean Power Plan, saying reinstatement “would not make sense”