Climate rule would bring power sector’s carbon to historic low

The Obama administration’s climate rule for the power sector would bring that industry’s carbon dioxide output to its lowest level in decades.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule would cut power plants’ carbon to about 1,500 million metric tons a year by 2025.

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That level would be the lowest carbon emissions from the power sector since the early 1980s, the EIA said.

Its report is based on a Friday analysis the EIA released about the power and emissions implications of the EPA’s rule, which aims to slash power plants’ carbon 30 percent by 2030.

The reductions would amount to up to 35 percent below 2005 levels in 2025, the agency said.

But the EIA warned that emissions could creep up after 2025. That’s because states could get credit toward the rule by increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy and not actually cutting plants’ emissions.

“Because the emission rate standards stay constant after 2030, coal-fired generation can grow beyond 2030 as long as energy efficiency or renewable generation also grows, and the same average emissions rate is maintained,” it said Tuesday. “By 2040, the corresponding reduction is 30 percent, as continued growth in electricity demand leads to additional generation from fossil fuel-fired sources.”

But if the EPA extended a similar policy beyond the 2030 deadline, carbon output could fall 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2040, the EIA said.