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Air Quality Program

Frequently asked questions about Washington’s Clean Power Plan

Q: What is the difference between the federal Clean Power Plan (CPP) Rule and Washington’s Clean Power Plan?

The EPA adopted a federal Clean Power Plan rule in 2015. The federal rule is intended to reduce greenhouse gases, generally referred to as carbon pollution, from power plants nationwide and it directs states to develop their own Clean Power Plans. Ecology is working with its partners at the Washington Department of Commerce and the Utilities and Transportation Commission to develop Washington's Clean Power Plan.

Q: I heard that the federal Clean Power Plan Rule was put on hold by the Supreme Court. Why is Ecology still working on developing its plan?

Implementation and enforcement of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Rule was stayed by the U. S Supreme Court in February 2016. The stay means that requirements of the rule are not enforceable until the stay is lifted by the Supreme Court.

Washington and many other states are continuing to work on their plans. Until clarification is received on the EPA’s authority from the courts, it makes sense for Washington to go ahead with drafting Washington’s plan to ensure our state’s interests are fully represented and that we meet our federal obligations. Ecology, the Utilities and Transportation Commission, and the Department of Commerce are continuing work with stakeholders to design the best path forward for Washington utilities, rate payers, the public, and the environment.

Q: How does Ecology plan to engage with the public?

Ecology is partnering with the Department of Commerce and the Utilities and Transportation Commission to develop a plan to implement the EPA Clean Power Plan rule. We are using a phased approach to develop the design concept and prepare the final plan.

During the first phase, Ecology will have a series of stakeholder meetings to gather input about development of the design concept for the plan. The targeted meetings will focus on listening to the interests of the environmental community, the power plants, and vulnerable communities. Ecology will also hold public meetings when more information is available. Stay informed by signing up for our Clean Power Plan email listserv or check out our public involvement webpage.

Q: Have any decisions been made about the plan?

No decisions about plan content or requirements have been made. We are meeting with stakeholders and evaluating options for Washington’s plan. The three main options* provided in EPA’s Clean Power Plan rule are:

Rate-based emissions standards plan Sets rate based carbon dioxide emission limits on 11 affected power plants (in pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour)
Mass-based emissions standards plan Sets mass-based carbon dioxide emission limits on 11 affected power plants (in short tons of carbon dioxide emissions)
State measure plan Relies on a mixture of measure implemented by the state to achieve mass-based carbon limits. Also must include a federally enforceable backstop

* If Washington does not submit an approvable plan to EPA, then EPA will implement a plan for the state.


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