The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week that it will delay releasing the final rules for new power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The rules are now scheduled to be released sometime this summer.
The EPA’s 2015 Plan for the Carbon Emissions Rules
The rules for new power plants were expected to be released on January 8, 2015, but the EPA held a press conference on the 7th to announce that they would instead be releasing both sets of rules for new and existing power plants at the same time. “We believe it’s essential to consider these overlapping issues in a coordinated fashion,” said Janet McCabe, the EPA’s acting administrator for air quality.
The EPA will take this time to further review the feedback gathered during the comment period, having received more than 4 million public comments. McCabe also announced that the EPA will begin drafting a “model rule” for states that don’t submit their own plans to meet the emissions reduction targets.
According to the EPA, the utility sector accounts for almost one-third of U.S. total carbon emissions. The planned rules emphasize the importance of being able to track, forecast and report on emissions effectively. Managing and meeting current and upcoming compliance requirements, already a critical business activity for energy companies in the United States, will be top-of-mind this year.
The Global Outlook: What to Expect in 2015
The upcoming year is promising some big conversations in the energy sector, and potentially some big changes. Climate action remains a high priority not only on the U.S. political agenda, but on a global level as well, as nations prepare to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France on November 30, 2015.
While the UN Climate Change Conference is held yearly, the 2015 conference targets a conclusive, legally-binding agreement on emissions reduction. In December 2014, countries were urged to submit their “ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris,” which means that we may be hearing a lot of emissions talk throughout the year all across the world.
The United States-China climate deal, announced in late 2014, was heralded as a “game changer” (the two countries are the largest annual emitters of greenhouse gases) and may be just the first of many international commitments to reduce emissions. President Obama is currently preparing to visit Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month, and there have been hints that a solar energy deal and possibly even a carbon-reduction pact are in the works.
The sector’s shifting landscape suggests that the ability to adapt to new compliance requirements and innovate proactively will be essential for energy companies in the year ahead. It may even predict their long-term survival.