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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 (USEPA) can. Accordingly, the Attorney General, along with the attorneys general of several other states, sued the Bush Administration USEPA for its failure to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. In March 2011, the challenging states reached a groundbreaking settlement with USEPA 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 USEPA to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholders to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants. To that end, on December 16, 2013, the Attorney General joined twelve other state attorneys general on a multi state comment letter to USEPA supporting the agency’s legal bases for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants and discussing the states’ role and responsibilities under the Clean Air Act. In addition, on May 9, 2014, the Attorney General filed a separate comment letter supporting USEPA’s proposed rule to establish carbon pollution limits for new power plants.

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