Regulatory Actions and Initiatives
President Biden is committed to meeting the urgent threat of climate change while empowering American workers and businesses to drive our nation toward a clean energy future. As directed in Executive Order 13990, Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis, EPA is considering rulemaking proposals to address some of our nation’s largest sources of both climate- and health-harming pollution, such as the transportation, oil and natural gas, and power sectors. EPA will update this information as we move forward with new regulatory actions.
On this page:
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are fluorinated chemicals commonly used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances in applications such as air conditioning, refrigeration, fire suppression, solvents, foam blowing agents, and aerosols. HFCs are highly potent greenhouse gases with global warming potentials that can be hundreds to thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2).
The American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020 directs EPA to address HFCs by providing new authorities to phase down the production and consumption of listed HFCs, manage these HFCs and their substitutes, and facilitate the transition to next-generation technologies that do not rely on HFCs.
On April 27, 2021, EPA proposed its first regulation under the AIM Act. This phasedown will decrease the production and import of HFCs in the United States by 85 percent over the next 15 years. A global HFC phasedown is expected to avoid up to 0.5°C of global warming by 2100.
- Learn more about HFCs, the AIM Act, and EPA regulations under AIM.
Emissions and Fuel Use Standards for New Light-Duty and Heavy-Duty Motor Vehicles
On August 5, 2021, in concert with the White House announcement of an Executive Order on Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks, EPA proposed to set more stringent federal greenhouse gas emission standards for passenger cars and light trucks to secure pollution reductions through Model Year (MY) 2026. The proposal strengthens standards set by the previous administration and also outlines the Agency’s plans to initiate a subsequent rulemaking to set standards for MY 2027 and beyond, to speed the transition of the light-duty vehicle fleet toward a zero emissions future.
EPA also announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants from heavy-duty trucks. The Agency is working on a series of major rulemakings over the next three years that would set new standards for criteria pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions for heavy-duty vehicles in MY 2027 and beyond. Taken together, these rules would set the United States on a course to achieve significant greenhouse gas and other harmful pollutant emissions reductions from highway transportation over the long term.
Greenhouse Gas Standards for Aircraft
EPA is implementing CO2 emission standards for airplanes used in commercial aviation and for large business jets. These standards are consistent with international standards set by the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization. Learn more about greenhouse gas standards for aircraft.
Renewable Fuel Standard Program
EPA is also responsible for implementing the Renewable Fuels Standard Program, a national policy that requires a certain volume of renewable fuel to replace petroleum-based transportation fuel.
Oil and Natural Gas
The oil and natural gas sector is the nation’s largest industrial source of methane, another potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential that is 28 to 36 times greater than that of CO2 over the first hundred years after it is emitted. EPA’s Clean Air Act protections for the oil and natural gas industry help combat climate change and reduce emissions of other harmful air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds that contribute to ground-level ozone (“smog”) and hazardous air pollutants such as benzene.
Executive Order 13990 instructs EPA to consider taking two actions by September 2021 focused on reducing methane from the oil and gas sector:
- Proposing a rule to reduce methane emissions in the oil and natural gas sector by suspending, revising, or rescinding previously issued New Source Performance Standards (NSPS).
- Proposing new regulations to reduce emissions from existing operations in the oil and natural gas sector, including the exploration and production, processing, transmission, and storage segments.
EPA is working to complete the review directed by EO 13990. EPA has been engaging with a broad range of stakeholders to develop a proposal that achieves ambitious and cost-effective reductions in climate- and health-harming pollution. EPA will seek to leverage proven, cost-effective technologies and best practices for minimizing methane emissions that are already being used by some states and leading companies, while encouraging continued development and deployment of innovative and effective technologies.
EPA implements several health protections that affect power plants and reduce conventional air pollutants through the Acid Rain Program (ARP), the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and CSAPR Update programs, and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). As a result of these programs, fossil fuel-fired electric generating units reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and hazardous air pollutants, including mercury (Hg), to protect human health and the environment—and in doing so often adopt measures that reduce CO2 emissions as well.
Despite significant progress in reducing greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants over the last decade, the power sector is by far the largest category of stationary sources of greenhouse gases in the United States. EPA is currently evaluating additional opportunities to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions from power plants under the Clean Air Act.
Existing Electric Utility Generating Units
In January 2021, the D.C. Circuit vacated and remanded the previous administration’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan, which was issued in 2015, and stayed by the Supreme Court in February 2016. In its opinion vacating the repeal, the D.C. Circuit affirmed EPA’s obligation to set carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants.
EPA is actively developing a strategy for achieving meaningful reductions in emissions from existing power plants, building on the lessons of EPA’s prior efforts and informed by engagement with a broad range of stakeholders.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Electric Utility Generating Units
Under Section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act, EPA sets New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gas emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed fossil fuel–fired power plants.
In 2015, EPA issued a final rule establishing emission standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel-fired utility boilers and natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbines. Those emission limits remain in place today.
New and Existing Municipal Solid Waste Landfills
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. In 2016, EPA finalized two rules updating both the 1996 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for new and modified landfills and the 1996 guidelines for existing landfills to reduce emissions of methane-rich landfill gas. EPA issued a Federal Plan implementing the 2016 emission guidelines in May 2021.
Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program
The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program collects greenhouse gas data from large emission sources across a range of industry sectors, as well as suppliers of products that would emit greenhouse gases if released or combusted. Under the Clean Air Act (40 CFR Part 98), facilities that meet reporting thresholds must report greenhouse gas emissions to the program annually. Greenhouse gas data are available through a number of portals, including the Facility Level Information on GreenHouse gases Tool (FLIGHT).
Power Sector CO2 Emissions
EPA collects detailed CO2 emissions data and other information from power plants across the country as part of the Acid Rain Program (ARP) and the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and CSAPR Update programs. Summary-level data are updated every quarter and available on the Power Plant Emission Trends page. Power Sector Programs Progress Reports provide annual summaries of emissions and environmental impacts. More detailed emissions data are available in the Air Markets Program Data (AMPD) tool.
On December 7, 2009, EPA issued a final action under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act finding that six key well-mixed greenhouse gases constitute a threat to public health and welfare, and that the combined emissions from motor vehicles cause or contribute to climate change. On July 25, 2016, EPA issued a final action under Section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act finding that emissions of the six well-mixed greenhouse gases from certain classes of engines used in aircraft also constitute a threat to public health and welfare and contribute to climate change.