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Power Plants & Industrial Sources

Photo of a power plant with steam/smoke coming out of its towers.

Power plants can be substantial sources of traditional pollution (like soot and toxic heavy metals) and greenhouse gases, which cause global warming. Collectively, power plants are responsible for 33% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. California is committed to moving to less-polluting, lower carbon, and renewable technology. Some other states, however, continue to permit power plants and other industrial sources using last century’s technology.

While California cannot impose requirements on out-of-state emitters, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can. Accordingly, the Attorney General, along with the attorneys general of several other states, sued the Bush Administration EPA for its failure to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. In March 2011, the challenging states reached a groundbreaking settlement with EPA requiring the agency to take action to control carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.. Read the power plant settlement.

In June 2013, President Obama announced a national Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Plan builds on the progress made in the states’ settlement toward national greenhouse gas standards for power plants. The President directed EPA to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholders to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants. On September 20, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its first steps under the Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. EPA is proposing carbon pollution standards for new power plants and commencing the rulemaking process for standards for existing power plants.

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