Clean Air Act regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, require power plants to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.
That’s an ambitious target, given the country is projected to burn more than 200 million metric tons of coal-based energy this year, according to a recent report from the Center for American Progress.
But even with the Clean Energy Standard, a rule proposed by the Obama administration last year that would mandate a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, it’s not clear that utilities would be able to meet that goal, according the Center.
And even with a reduction of 80% of coal power plants in 2030, that would still leave nearly 3 billion metric tons left in the air.
In the end, it may come down to a question of who’s going to clean up our air: Consumers or the utilities that already own, or can afford to buy, coal plants?
The EPA has proposed a rule that would require utilities to buy more than 40% of the CO2 they emit, which would include coal plants that produce more than 10,000 metric tons.
But that’s not the only way utilities would get around the Clean Air Rule.
Some states already have the ability to buy power from other utilities, and other states have also been using that power to purchase power from coal plants.
According to the EPA, the rule would not apply to any power plants that do not meet the requirements set forth by the Clean Clean Energy standard.
A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency said the agency has no comment on the proposed rule.