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Annual Energy Outlook 2015

Release Date: April 14, 2015   |  Next Release Date: March 2016 |  correction  |  full report

Legislation and Regulations

Recent environmental regulations in the electric power sector

Jeffrey Jones/Michael Leff

Release Date: 4/30/14

Several environmental rules recently implemented at the federal and state levels affect the AEO2014 projections for the electric power sector. While not considered in the AEO2014 Reference case, the EPA is also currently in the process of developing new rules to address electric power plant air emissions, the impact of cooling water intake systems on aquatic life, and coal ash disposal methods.

Handling of the Renewable Fuels Standard in AEO2014

Tony Radich

Release Date: 4/30/14

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 [15] and was expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA2007) [16]. It requires the EPA to set requirements for the renewable content of gasoline and diesel fuel. Refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel fuel are obligated to blend renewable fuels in proportion to the volumes of gasoline and diesel fuel sold. There are four interrelated requirements, for cellulosic biofuels, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuels, and total renewable fuels.

State renewable energy requirements and goals: update through 2013

Gwen Bredehoeft/Michelle Adams Bowman

Release Date: 4/30/14

To the extent possible, AEO2014 reflects state laws and regulations in effect at the end of October 2013 that require the addition of renewable generation or capacity by utilities doing business in the state [17] to meet RPS requirements. The projection does not include laws and regulations with either voluntary goals or targets that can be substantially satisfied with nonrenewable resources.

U.S. response to the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi

Nancy Slater-Thompson

Release Date: 4/30/14

Since the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. nuclear industry have been working to address issues related to the accident. The NRC and the U.S. nuclear industry initiated an immediate coordinated response to the accident, as well as long-term actions intended to assure the safety of operating and planned reactors in the United States.


The Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014) generally represents current federal and state legislation and final implementation of regulations as of the end of October 2013. The AEO2014 Reference case assumes that current laws and regulations affecting the energy sector are largely unchanged throughout the projection period (including the implication that laws that include sunset dates are no longer in effect at the time of those sunset dates) [1]. read more ›


The potential impacts of proposed legislation, regulations, or standards–or of sections of authorizing legislation that have been enacted but are not funded, or for which parameters will be set in a future regulatory process—are not reflected in the AEO2014 Reference case, but some are considered in alternative cases. This section summarizes federal and state legislation and regulations newly incorporated or updated in AEO2014 since the completion of the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013). It also summarizes selected rules and regulations that have been proposed recently and have the potential to affect the projection significantly.

Examples of federal and state legislation and regulations incorporated in the AEO2014 Reference case, or whose handling has been modified, include:

  • Incorporation of the revised emissions standards and banking provisions for carbon dioxide (CO2) announced by the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in February 2013, which lowered the program's emissions cap by 45% starting in 2014 [2].
  • Updated handling of the mandated volume for biofuels established for the renewable fuel standard (RFS) by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT2005) [3] and expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA2007) [4] to reflect final and proposed actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set obligations for both cellulosic biofuels and total renewable fuels below the legislated targets, using the discretion allowed by the law.
  • Incorporation of modifications to existing state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) or similar laws to reflect recent modifications to existing programs in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, and Washington [5]. The changes that were enacted affect some aspects of the laws and implementing regulations, but in general they do not have significant substantive effects on the representation of the RPS programs in AEO2014.

There are many other pieces of legislation and regulation that might be enacted in the not-too-distant future, and some laws include sunset provisions that may be extended. However, it is difficult to discern future outcomes. Even in situations where existing legislation contains provisions to allow revision of implementing regulations, those provisions may not be exercised consistently. Many pending provisions are examined in alternative cases included in AEO2014 or in other analyses completed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In addition, at the request of both federal agencies and Congress, EIA has regularly examined the potential implications of other possible energy options in special analyses that can be found on the EIA website at http://www.eia.gov/analysis/reports.cfm?t=138.