Greenhouse Gases

EPD Greenhouse Gas Programs

Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases, and others, contribute to global climate change. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides information on climate change, GHGs, and GHG emissions, as well as information on their related activities.

While EPA is supporting GHG reductions from the transportation sector and the oil and natural gas sectors directly, it relies more on states to implement GHG tracking and reduction from stationary sources such as power plants, large landfills, and industrial facilities. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) is tasked with implementing the regulations and policies of EPA within the state, including providing support for meeting Federal requirements. Currently, EPA and GA EPD actions involving GHGs include:

Climate Pollution Reduction Grant

As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program will provide $5 billion in grants to states and local governments to develop and implement plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other harmful air pollution.  This two-staged grant program provides funding of $250 million for noncompetitive planning grants ($3M to each state to develop a Climate Pollution Reduction Plan), and $4.6 billion for competitive implementation grants.

EPA’s goal for CPRG is to help states and the largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) develop plans to reduce the contributor to climate change, greenhouse gases.  CPRG requires the following three key deliverables:

  • A Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP), due early 2024;
  • A Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP), due 2 years from the date of the award; and
  • A Status Report, due at the close of the 4-year grant period.

Projects described in our Climate Pollution Reduction Plan will be eligible to apply for part of the $4.6 billion competitive implementation grant.  Applications for the implementation grants will be due in the first quarter of calendar year 2024.  Georgia EPD will be engaging stakeholders in addressing this grant opportunity.

Reducing carbon emissions from power plants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified power plants as the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States. Starting with the Clean Power Plan in 2015, EPA directed states to develop plans to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

Clean Power Plan (CPP)

On August 3, 2015, EPA set the first uniform national limits on the amount of carbon pollution that new (Clean Air Act Section 111-b) and existing (Clean Air Act Section 111-d) electric utility generating units (EGUs) will be allowed to emit. Under CAA Section 111-d, EPA published the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units or the Clean Power Plan. Electric utility generating units (EGUs) are more commonly known as power plants. The rule aimed to reduce U.S. power sector emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The Supreme Court in 2016 stayed the implementation of the CPP and EPA in 2019 repealed the CPP.

Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule

EPA concluded that the CPP exceeded EPA’s statutory authority and on June 19, 2019, EPA published the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. Unlike the Clean Power Plan which set national and state-specific emissions goals, the ACE rule set coal plant emissions standards on a facility-by-facility basis. The goal of ACE was to lower power sector emissions by 11 million tons, or between 0.7 and 1.5 percent, by 2030.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down ACE rule on January 19, 2021.

Current Proposed Power Plant GHG Rule

On May 11, 2023, EPA proposed new carbon pollution standards for coal and gas-fired power plants. EPA projects that the Greenhouse Gas Standards and Guidelines for Fossil Fuel-fired Power Plants rule, if finalized, would cut 617 million metric tons of CO2 through 2042. This rule aims to repeal the ACE rule, update the New Source Performance Standards for Fossil Fuel-fired Stationary Sources, and set emissions guidelines for new gas-fired combustion turbines, existing coal, oil and gas-fired steam generating units, and certain existing gas-fired combustion turbines.  The proposed standards are based on technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration/storage (CCS), low-GHG hydrogen co-firing, and natural gas co-firing, which can be applied directly to power plants that use fossil fuels to generate electricity. EPA has proposed that states submit plans to EPA within 24 months of the effective date of the emissions guidelines.

A timeline of Actions on Greenhouse Gas Regulations from 2015 to 2023

Greenhouse Gas Reporting

The EPA Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program collects greenhouse gas data from large emission sources (facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons of GHGs or more per year), as well as suppliers of products that could emit greenhouse gases. Reporting of GHG data began in 2010 for most sources as required by EPA. In total, 41 source categories report GHG data which account for 85-90% of U.S. GHG emissions. Data, data viewing tools, and reports are availableIn addition, EPA has prepared an annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks report to track total national emissions of GHGs since 1990.

At the state level, in response to a unanimous recommendation by the Governor’s Energy Policy Council that the GA EPD provide an updated state GHG inventory every three years, the GA EPD developed two statewide Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory Reports. The reports, published in November 2008 and January 2012, describe Greenhouse Gas emissions for the state of Georgia, calculated using the US EPA State Inventory Tool (SIT) and are available here:

Greenhouse Gas Permitting

On January 2, 2011, permits were required for GHG emissions from the largest stationary sources under the EPA New Source Review Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V Operating Permit Programs.

After a court decision in 2014, sources no longer must obtain a PSD or Title V permit solely based on GHG emissions.  If a permit is required for a criteria pollutant and the applicant meets the permitting threshold for GHGs (75,000 ton/yr CO2e) then the permitting authority must consider GHGs in the permitting process (e.g. do GHG BACT for PSD). GA EPD implements these requirements and provides permits for facilities within the state.

View more about Greenhouse Gas Permitting.