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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

The Clean Power Plan: Economic or Environmental?

2016 October 14


On August 3, 2015, President Barack Obama introduced the highly controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP) as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to combat climate change.  While the actual text of the CPP is extensive and complex, the general idea itself is fairly simple: each US state has been given a target for carbon emissions reductions by the year 2030, based on each state’s fossil fuel based power industry.

On the day of its announcement, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated in a press release that the CPP is flexible and allows states to customize individual plans to achieve their reduction goals.

Every state, with the exception of Vermont and Washington, D.C. which have no fossil fuel-based power plants, is expected by the EPA to submit a final compliance plan by September 6, 2016.  

Alternatively, those states that request a 2-year extension can submit their initial plan at that point.

In addition, the EPA has introduced the Clean Energy Incentive Program, a voluntary addition to the CPP which provides states with emission reduction credits if they invest in wind or solar energy during 2020 and/or 2021.

The CPP received a slew of opposing reactions.  Legally speaking, at least 29 states and state agencies have filed in opposition of the EPA and the CPP.  In contrast, 18 states plus Washington, D.C. have filed in support, while 5 states (Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee) have taken no legal position.

Proponents of the CPP argue several environmental ...

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