EPA's Proposed Greenhouse Gas Regulations for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions [July 3, 2014] [open pdf - 441KB]
"Taking action to address climate change by reducing U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is among President Obama's major goals. At an international conference in Copenhagen in 2009, he committed the United States to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases 17% by 2020, as compared to 2005 levels. At the time, 85 other nations also committed to reductions. Since U.S. GHG emissions peaked in 2007, a variety of factors--some economic, some the effect of government policies at all levels--have brought the United States more than halfway to reaching the 2020 goal. Getting the rest of the way would likely depend, to some degree, on continued GHG emission reductions from electric power plants, which are the largest source of U.S. emissions. In June 2013, the President released a Climate Action Plan that addressed this and other climate issues. At the same time, he directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose standards for 'carbon pollution' (i.e., carbon dioxide, the principal GHG) from existing power plants by June 2014 and to finalize them in June 2015. Under the President's timetable, by June 2016, states would be required to submit to EPA plans to implement the standards. On June 2, 2014, EPA responded to the first of these directives by releasing the proposed standards."
CRS Report for Congress, R43572