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We’re leading an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

Join our work today to help us build a thriving and just clean energy future. 

Falling Behind: A Report Card on EPA's Progress on 10 Important Power Sector Rules

Analysis by Evergreen Action shows that EPA is falling behind on eight key climate change and air quality regulations for the power sector, with only two rules on track.

Updated February 2024

Evergreen created the original EPA Report Card in October 2022, analyzing EPA’s progress on 10 key climate and air quality regulations for the power sector. At that time, EPA was noticeably falling behind on eight of these critical rules, all of which are instrumental in cutting pollution harming frontline communities and exacerbating the climate crisis. Since then, the report card has been updated in January 2023, March 2023, July 2023, and February 2024. 

This latest version welcomes EPA’s progress in finalizing a strong soot standard, which will protect thousands of people from dangerous pollution. However, the administration still has urgent work ahead, as five of these rules are at risk of not being finalized within President Biden’s first term—including rules for power plant carbon pollution, mercury, toxic water pollution, and coal ash.

Most urgently, EPA must quickly strengthen and finalize its proposal to regulate carbon pollution from new and existing power plants before April of this year. Otherwise, the rules are at risk of being permanently overturned by the Congressional Review Act. We’re down to the wire, and EPA has no time to waste.

Download the Updated Report Card

Closing the Pollution Gap

President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law on August 16, 2022, injecting over $370 billion in climate and environmental justice investments into the economy and America’s fight against climate change. According to multiple analyses put out by the Biden Administration, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, and other independent experts, the IRA will help cut carbon pollution by around 40% below 2005 levels by 2030—bringing the U.S. closer than ever before to meeting the President’s pledge to reduce carbon pollution 50-52% economy-wide by 2030. Modeling by Energy Innovation has shown that the law would also create significant air quality benefits, preventing about 2,700 premature deaths in the year 2030. 

While the IRA represents historic progress on President Biden’s climate and pollution goals, there is still much more that needs to be done to ensure those reductions are realized and to close the 10-12% emissions gap still on the table. Cleaning up the power sector is the linchpin in achieving this economy-wide target, as other sectors, including transportation, buildings and some heavy industry, will rely heavily on clean electrification to decarbonize. The IRA contained large incentives to deploy new clean energy—an essential part of the President’s “standards, investment, and justice” approach to climate policy. However, the bill provided few of the standards that directly reduce power sector emissions.

To finish the job in cleaning up the power sector—and to close the remaining 10-12% emissions gap by 2030—the administration must now pursue a stronger regulatory agenda. This must include standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that cut pollution from fossil fuel power plants, including both climate pollutants and the traditional air and water pollutants that harm human health and drive environmental injustice. 

Unfortunately, many of these regulations are behind schedule. Because of extensive public comment and procedural requirements and the potential for lengthy litigation, the rulemaking process often takes years. Without picking up the pace, the administration risks leaving critical steps either unfinished at the end of President Biden’s first term or subject to the Congressional Review Act.

This memo provides a report card on 10 important climate and air and water quality regulations that EPA must complete and shows that, to finalize each rule during the first term and guarantee progress on climate and clean air, EPA Administrator Michael Regan must move further, faster.

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To deliver on their commitments to combat climate change and air pollution, the administration and EPA must move further, faster on its power sector agenda. The agency must also follow these regulatory actions with a robust strategy of enforcement for these and other existing rules (like the Sulfur Dioxide NAAQS). By finalizing these 10 rules on an expedited timeline, President Biden and Administrator Regan can ensure that key climate and clean air promises are kept before the next election and that our climate targets remain within reach. By delaying, EPA risks leaving signature achievements unfinished—or risks their reversal by a future administration before they can even take effect.

Sign On: EPA Must Go Further, Faster!

Far too many critical EPA standards have been delayed or stalled, and we have just two years until the end of President Biden’s first term. Americans can’t wait.

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