New power plant pollution standards will bolster U.S. momentum in clean energy

Ceres celebrates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s newly released power plant standards as a key policy that will ensure the nation is powered by abundant, reliable, affordable low-carbon energy. 

“By reducing climate pollution from new and existing fossil power plants, the EPA’s final standards will position the U.S. power sector to deliver cleaner energy at a time when electricity usage is rising across the economy,” said Dan Bakal, senior program manager for climate and energy, Ceres. “These standards will meet the needs of businesses and their investors as they seek clean energy solutions to reduce costs, remain at the leading edge of innovation, and lower the risks of climate change.” 

“Guided by the historic incentives in recent federal legislation, along with strong demand from investors and companies, the U.S. is in the midst of a clean energy boom that is making affordable, reliable, and homegrown clean power more accessible across the country,” said Zach Friedman, director of federal policy, Ceres. “We applaud the EPA for finalizing robust power plant emissions standards that will help ensure the U.S. maximizes the opportunity to lead the world in building an advanced and abundant clean energy economy.” 

Ceres and the companies it works with were major advocates for strong 111(b) and 111(d) standards throughout the EPA’s rule-making process.  

In 2023, dozens of leading businesses submitted a letter calling for the EPA to finalize the most robust standards to maximize the climate, public health, and economic benefits from reduced climate pollution.  

“As the costs of the climate crisis and the cost-effectiveness of clean energy have each become increasingly clear, so too has the need for a more rapid transition in the power sector towards affordable, reliable American-made decarbonized energy,” the businesses wrote in the letter. “Moreover, these standards are achievable and will provide the clarity and certainty that the economy — and that we as major power sector customers and investors — need.” 

The Clean Energy Group — a coalition of power providers serving more than 100 million Americans over 47 states — submitted a separate letter in 2023 supporting the EPA’s role in reducing greenhouse gas pollution from power plants. 

Ceres Senior Program Director for Climate and Energy Dan Bakal also testified to the EPA in 2023, calling for strong standards that “will help strengthen our economy and ensure that the United States remains a global leader in clean energy.” 

The EPA built its new standards on an agency forecast for the growth of technological innovation, especially for carbon capture and storage technology. Recent research published by Ceres shows that throughout its history, the EPA has been highly effective at forecasting technological progress and the feasibility of newly implemented standards, and that new standards help provide regulatory certainty to drive that progress, innovation, and growth. 

The power sector makes up 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and power plants are the nation’s second-largest source of climate pollution. To meet U.S. climate goals, it is essential to not only reduce pollution from the electricity necessary to meet current needs in the U.S., but to also add enough additional clean power to meet projected growth in future demand. That includes growth in parts of the economy such as vehicles and building appliances that are moving toward electric power to reduce their costs and climate impacts, and new advanced manufacturing spurred by recent federal incentives.  

The EPA’s new standards apply to existing coal-powered plants and new gas-powered plants; additional EPA action for existing gas-powered plants is expected in the future, and Ceres will continue to engage investors and companies in support of robust standards. 

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