A Closer Look At EPA Emissions Rules For Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming


Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s fossil fuel-fired power plants. What do those rules mean for Inside Energy focus states Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming?

State goals

Based on each state’s energy portfolio and economy, the EPA assigned state-specific emissions goals for the year 2030.

These goals are framed as emissions rates, not absolute emissions values. States will have to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced per amount of electricity being generated* (in pounds per megawatt hour) — whether they generate 10 percent of the country’s electricity, like Texas, or less than a tenth of a percent, like Rhode Island.

Here are emissions goals for the three Inside Energy states mentioned up top, published Monday by the EPA.

  • Colorado’s carbon dioxide goal is 1,108 lbs per MWh of electricity generated, a 35% reduction from its 2012 emissions rate of 1,714 lbs/MWh.
  • North Dakota’s carbon dioxide goal is 1,783 lbs per MWh of electricity generated, an 11% reduction from its 2012 emissions rate of 1,994 lbs/MWh.
  • Wyoming’s carbon dioxide goal is 1,714 lbs per MWh of electricity generated, a 19% reduction from its 2012 emissions rate of 2,115 lbs/MWh.

To put this in perspective, by 2030 North Dakota and Wyoming power plants will need to emit near current Colorado levels. Currently, Wyoming has the third-highest power plant emissions rate in the country and North Dakota ranks sixth. North Dakota’s target for year 2030 represents the highest emission rate and the smallest percentage of decrease from 2012 values.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 2.55.20 PM

This graph shows 2012 emissions rate and 2030 emissions rate goals for Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming, based on data the EPA released with its proposed emissions rules.

Affected power plants

The new EPA rules apply to existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. These are facilities where coal and natural gas are burned to generate electricity. Along with the rules, the EPA released a map of the affected power plants.

Based on this map, there are:

  • 22 affected power plants in Colorado
  • 8 affected power plants in North Dakota
  • 10 affected power plants in Wyoming
  • View the power plants in Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming as a Google spreadsheet
EPA Clean Power Plan Map

Environmental Protection Agency

Click to visit the EPA’s interactive Clean Power Plan map, which shows affected power plants and emissions rate goals for each state.

States are given options for how to meet emissions rate goals. They include making power plant facilities more efficient, adding renewable power sources, or trading emissions with other states.

Stay with Inside Energy for ongoing coverage and to learn even more about what these new environmental rules mean for you.

*Note: The baseline emission rates only include fossil fuel-fired power plants, non-hydroelectric renewables, and some nuclear power. It isn’t, strictly speaking, a measure of which state’s energy is the cleanest overall.

Read more: “How Will New EPA Rules Affect You? It’s Complicated,” by Dan Boyce for Inside Energy