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Game changers affecting the US energy sector — volume two

The energy sector today is faced with a host of challenges and opportunities as it navigates the globalisation of the industry, national and international fuel availability and policy and regulatory decisions at home and abroad.

In the US, this summer has been a busy time for clean energy legislation. Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are pushing to help propel the US power sector forward onto a cleaner, less carbon-intensive path. The Clean Power Program proposal from the EPA would force a 30 per cent cut in carbon emissions by the year 2030, and it marks the first time that the US has sought these restrictions on existing power plants. The EPA’s broad reach creates legal vulnerabilities for the proposal, but it also creates opportunities for states and for electricity generators to make greater investments in a clean energy future.

Those vulnerabilities received a preview in a recent Supreme Court ruling on similar regulations. The court seemingly pulled back the EPA’s ability to establish broad-ranging programmes to address climate change. However, the mixed decision underscored the court’s view that the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, but strongly warned the agency to not stray far from statutory limits…

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