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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its long awaited proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards to slash carbon emissions from existing power plants, the largest industrial source of GHG emissions in the US. The rule, if upheld by the Supreme Court, will require existing power plants to reduce GHG emissions by an average of 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. It should also have an important impact on air pollution.

Emission reduction targets will be set state-by-state, taking into account reductions already made. The rule is expected to be completed by June 2015 and will give states up to one year to develop and submit implementation plans to EPA. In addition, states will have the ability to request extensions of up to two additional years to complete their plans. EPA also issued a proposed rule for modification and reconstruction of existing power plants with respect to GHG emissions. Under EPA’s January 8, 2014, proposed rule addressing GHG emissions from new power plants, the Agency specifically indicated that it would be proposing a separate approach for modified and reconstructed units. Both rules will be challenged in the courts by power and coal companies. There will be a 120 day public comment period beginning on the date of publication in the Federal Register. There is a recommended 30-day comment period for comments to OMB on the information collection request aspect of the proposal.

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