The Clean Power Plan

Joe Begovich
December 17, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2017


Fig. 1: A coal plant in Eastgulf, West Virginia. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Clean Power Plan was created by the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama's administration. The EPA created the plan in an effort to address the threat of climate change. The goal of the plan was to significantly lower the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. The plan targeted power plants which are often located in low income neighborhoods, subjecting its residents to potential health consequences. The rules set a 32% reduction goal in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2035. [1] This was reductions relative to their 2005 outputs of carbon dioxide. The rules asked each state to develop their own set of regulations to meet the stated reduction goal. [1]


Critics of the Clean Power Plan worried that these new regulations were a federal government outreach. They were concerned with the potential negative impacts on the U.S. economy and coal miners who would lose their jobs as a result. Additionally, they were worried the plan is meaningless because countries such as China that are much bigger polluters are not taking any action to reduce their emissions. [2] Fig. 1 shows an example of a coal plant in West Virginia that would be affected by the rule. The legality of the rule has been challenged by many in court and was put on hold by U.S. District courts pending further court orders. [3]


On October 10th EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a repeal of the Clean Power Plan. [3] As a result, it will no longer go into effect. It is unlikely new regulations will be created under the current administration similar to that of the Clean Power Plan.

© Joe Begovich. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] J. Conca, "Only One Loser in Obama's Clean Power Plan," Forbes, 4 Aug 15.

[2] "The EPA Defends the Clean Power Plan," Wall Street Journal, 30 Mar 15.

[3] L. Friedman and B. Plumer, "E.P.A. Announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Carbon Emissions Rule," New York Times, 9 Oct 17.