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The Future of Power: Regulating Carbon under the Clean Air Act
The modern Clean Air Act, originally passed in 1970, has proven durable and flexible. Since 2007, the act has been used to regulate greenhouse gases that cause climate change, including standards for mobile emissions sources and pre-construction permitting of stationary sources.
The US Environmental Protection Agency is issuing carbon pollution standards for existing power plants (under the Clean Power Plan) as well as new power plants. Accordingly, the Clean Air Act has become the central vehicle for US climate policy.
RFF researchers are analyzing the effectiveness, efficiency, and distributional impacts of options for regulating carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. Below are examples of recent work.
- A Primer on Comprehensive Policy Options for States to Comply with the Clean Power Plan. RFF’s Karen L. Palmer and Anthony Paul identify a range of existing incentive-based policies that states can use to meet their Clean Power Plan targets, focusing on cost-effectiveness and distributional consequences.
- US Power Plant Carbon Standards and Clean Air and Health Co-benefits. RFF’s Dallas Burtraw and coauthors show that states will gain large, widespread, and nearly immediate health benefits if EPA sets strong standards in the final Clean Power Plan. This peer-reviewed study was published in Nature Climate Change.
- A Proximate Mirror: Greenhouse Gas Rules and Strategic Behavior under the US Clean Air Act. RFF’s Dallas Burtraw, Karen L. Palmer, Sophie Pan, and Anthony Paul look at domestic data from the energy industry and conclude that current policy design options can provide real opportunities to advance climate goals effectively—if states can learn new strategies and engage in coalition building.
- The Costs and Consequences of Clean Air Act Regulation of CO2 from Power Plants. RFF’s Dallas Burtraw, Joshua Linn, Karen L. Palmer, and Anthony Paul compare policy options for regulating carbon dioxide from power plants under the Clean Air Act. Flexible approaches would create credits or permits that could be distributed to electricity producers, consumers, or the government—and each option impacts electricity prices and social costs differently.
- Technology Flexibility and Stringency for Greenhouse Gas Regulations. Under the Clean Air Act, tradable performance standards emerge as the likely tool to achieve flexibility in the regulation of existing stationary sources. In this discussion paper, RFF’s Dallas Burtraw and Matthew Woerman examine the relationship between flexibility and stringency.
See more research on the Clean Air Act.
Recent Posts on RFF’s Blog, Common Resources
See more blog posts on the Clean Air Act.