The Environmental Protection Agency is said to be nearing the release of draft rules to force carbon emissions cuts at the nation’s power plants, Ben writes.

Why it matters: Electricity production is the second-largest source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from coal- and gas-fired plants.

Driving the news: The New York Times reports that under the plan, these plants could need to end nearly all their emissions by 2040.

  • Bloomberg has the same rough info, though both outlets caution the rules are still under construction.
  • Green and industry groups have held meetings with White House and EPA aides in recent days — a frequent sign of an impending release.

What we’re watching: A few things to keep in mind when the draft rules arrive in coming days or weeks …

🧮 The math: The power sector has already been getting cleaner. Coal provided half of U.S. power 15 years ago but just a fifth last year, and renewables are growing fast.

  • But the rules are a recognition that climate law carrots — via major clean power tax subsidies — need complimentary sticks to meet national climate goals.
  • The White House has pledged a 50% cut to economy-wide emissions by 2030 when compared with 2005 levels, under the Paris Agreement.
  • Separately, the White House has an aspirational target of 100% carbon-free power by 2035.

🤝🏽 The synergies: The rules, per multiple reports, won’t require specific tech. Nonetheless, they will be a de facto mandate to use carbon capture and, at gas plants, hydrogen.

  • So a big thing to watch is how much EPA sees the climate law — and the 2021 infrastructure law — making that tech competitive enough to meet the standards.

⚖️ The courts: A 2022 Supreme Court ruling constrained the EPA’s power to impose regulations that pushed system-wide movement toward renewables.

  • The new requirements are expected to instead focus “inside the fenceline” on emissions rates at power plants.
  • But litigation is certain once they’re finalized, so it’s possible the high court could decide again whether they believe EPA stayed in its lane.

⏰ The clock: Bureaucratic wheels turn slowly. So, if a Republican wins the White House in 2024, the rules could be undone before they’ve really become facts on the ground.

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