Western States Are Well-Positioned to Meet EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Stacy Tellinghuisen“Key stakeholders – including our utilities, state agencies, health and environmental advocates – have worked together and achieved creative, workable solutions to reducing our carbon pollution.”

– Stacy Tellinghuisen, Senior Energy/Water Policy Analyst

Clean Power Plan Nation’s First Carbon Pollution Regulation

In August 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized our nation’s first-ever regulations for carbon pollution from power plants – the source of nearly 40% of our nation’s carbon emissions. These standards represent the first real action taken by the federal government to reduce the electricity sector’s carbon pollution and address climate change. For the West, where we already see the effects of climate change such as more intense wildfires and drought, enacting these standards is essential.
Western Resource Advocates has demonstrated that many Western states can achieve the carbon pollution standards established by EPA, thanks to states’ adoption of renewable energy standards and energy efficiency standards, and decisions to retire the region’s oldest, most polluting coal plants.

Western States Are Well Positioned to Achieve Clean Power Standards

In Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, state regulators, elected officials, and major utilities have taken proactive measures to get ahead of carbon pollution regulations. Those policies have led the states to adopt renewable energy, invest in energy efficiency, and transition away from the most carbon-intensive power plants. Specifically these actions have moved states towards much lower carbon footprints:

  • In Colorado, the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act is allowing the state to economically transition to cleaner energy and a stronger economy;
  • In Nevada, Senate Bill 123 is similarly transitioning the state from conventional coal-fired power plants to renewable energy; and
  • In New Mexico, the state is advancing the retirement of a portion of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station.

In addition, each of these states’ renewable energy standards and energy efficiency investments have helped reduce carbon pollution while building a clean energy economy. These policies mean that the states are well positioned to meet EPA’s regulations.

Key western states will make significant reductions in their carbon pollution.

EPA’s standard requires states to reduce the carbon intensity of their electricity generation (in pounds of CO2 per MWh of electricity); these western states are already expected to achieve all, or a significant portion of EPA’s required reductions under current utility plans.

Western Resource Advocates has developed analyses demonstrating that, under existing policies and planned actions, Colorado and New Mexico are likely to achieve more than 75% of the carbon rate reductions required by EPA in 2030. In Nevada, the significant carbon reductions from planned coal retirements and renewable energy additions mean the state will likely exceed EPA’s standard in 2030. Our analysis helps show that Western states are on the right track and that these standards are achievable.

Western Resource Advocates has developed a compliance program – the Carbon Reduction Credit Program – that would allow states and utilities to comply with EPA’s rule, allocate the additional emissions reductions fairly and equitably, and, because it is a market- and credit-based trading program, enable the most cost-effective emissions reductions in a state. Importantly, its simplicity means it could be readily adopted, allowing states to comply on EPA’s proposed timeframe, and it allows states to maintain control of energy policies, such as renewable energy standards and efficiency standards.

Western Resource Advocates will continue working to support state efforts to comply with EPA’s Clean Power Plan and advance complementary state-based clean energy policies, helping ensure the region is on a course to reduce carbon pollution and protect our Western rivers, forests, landscapes, and the communities that depend on them.

  • For a factsheet on how Colorado is positioned to comply with the final Clean Power Plan, click here
  • For a summary of compliance policy options and strategies in Colorado, click here
  • For a factsheet on how Nevada is positioned to comply with the final Clean Power Plan, click here.
  • To access the analytical models WRA has developed in key Western states
    please contact Stacy Tellinghuisen, 720.763.3716, [email protected]
  • To view the statement of Stacy Tellinghuisen, WRA Senior Energy/Water Policy Analyst, at the EPA hearing on July 29, 2014, click here

Clean Energy Program 

Clean Power Plan


Related Publication

Carbon Reduction Credit Program Working Paper

This report presents a credit-based carbon dioxide emission rate reduction program for existing power plants including model regulatory language.


Read More


Related Blog Post

First Ever National Carbon Pollution Standards Announced: Western States Well Positioned to Meet New Clean Power Plan Targets

by Joan Clayburgh


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Project Staff

Robert Johnston

Senior Staff Attorney

Nancy Kelly

Senior Policy Advisor

Steve Michel

Steve Michel

Chief of Policy Development

John Nielsen

Clean Energy Program Director

Erin Overtuf

Erin Overturf

Chief Energy Counsel

Stacy Tellinghuisen

Stacy Tellinghuisen

Senior Climate Policy Analyst