NRDC’s innovative proposal calls for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to set standards for existing power plants—America’s largest source of carbon emissions that fuel climate change—that will cut millions of tons of carbon pollution, save thousands of lives and create thousands of clean energy jobs.
The proposal enables states and electricity plant owners to use a wide range of existing technologies, including energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, to meet carbon pollution standards in the most cost-effective way. States would also have broad flexibility to design their own plans to meet the standards.
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Under NRDC’s proposal, the EPA would use Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act to set state-specific carbon emission rates that reflect the diversity of the nation’s electricity sector and fuel mix. Broad compliance flexibility would enable power plant owners and states to reduce emissions through cost-effective means that could be accomplished by:
- Reducing an individual plant’s carbon emissions by improving combustion efficiency, burning cleaner fuels or installing carbon capture and storage.
- Shifting generation from high-emitting to lower- or zero-emitting plants. Lower emitting sources such as gas, wind and solar would earn credits that other plants could use, to reduce average emissions rates.
- Expanding energy efficiency. State energy-efficiency programs could earn credits for avoiding power generation and its pollution. Generators could purchase those credits to use toward their emissions targets.
- States would have additional freedom to adopt alternative approaches–such as those already adopted by California, the Northeast states, and Colorado—as long as they are equally effective in cutting emissions.