EPA Plans to Cut Carbon Emissions From Power Plants by 30%

By Joe Gullo

Published 06/02 2014 11:55AM

Updated 06/02 2014 12:11PM

WASHINGTON - The EPA announced Monday that they plan to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30% by 2030. 

The EPA says the Clean Power Plan will protect public health, move the U.S. to toward a cleaner environment, and fight climate change. 

"Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life.  EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama's Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source--power plants," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment--our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs." 

Here are how some Americans feel about new emission limits on power plants from a Pew Research survey:

Source: Pew Research Center (Survey: September 4-8, 2013)

By 2030, the steady and responsible steps EPA is taking will:
  • Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year; 
  • Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
  • Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits; and 
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.  
Local Reaction:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):
“I applaud the EPA’s proposal for common-sense standards to reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming. Much more must be done to avoid a planetary crisis, but reducing emissions from dirty coal-fired power plants is a good step. Shutting down old, dirty power plants and replacing them with solar, wind and other renewable and sustainable sources of energy will also create hundreds of thousands of jobs and save consumers billions of dollars."

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:
“Climate change poses a real and present danger to the people, environment, and economy of New York. I commend President Obama for recognizing the unprecedented threat of climate change and acting decisively on the Clean Air Act’s legal mandate that greenhouse gas pollutants be controlled. Today’s landmark proposal would – for the first time – limit climate change pollution from the nation’s single largest source, existing fossil-fueled power plants. It would also leverage state-proven methods of cutting climate change pollution by offering states and power companies flexibility in fashioning strategies to achieve needed reductions. I look forward to continuing to fight for the health and welfare of New Yorkers by supporting this and other fair, sensible, and necessary actions to combat climate change.”  

New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan:

“New Hampshire has been a leader in efforts to curb harmful emissions while encouraging the creation of innovative energy technologies that help our businesses succeed. It is important that the federal government recognize that states like New Hampshire have been hard at work on this effort for a number of years, and I hope that these rules will level the playing field by requiring other states to begin to catch up to us.

It is also important that the Administration recognize that states need flexibility to develop their own policies to protect the health of our people and our economies. So I am encouraged that the new proposed regulations provide for state-specific solutions.

Programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have brought numerous benefits to the Granite State, leading to new innovations while generating jobs and saving energy costs. We look forward to continuing to work with our regional partners to ensure that we reduce the harmful emissions that lead to climate change, while also helping to reduce energy costs, create jobs and encourage innovation in the state's clean-energy economy.” 

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.):
“The era of letting energy companies put profits over people -- harming our health, endangering our more vulnerable citizens, and scarring the planet -- must finally end.  For the good of our generation and future generations, the President has shown the courage and the foresight to do what has long been overdue. 

Today the Environmental Protection Agency has announced new, flexible, commonsense guidelines to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector across the country.  They were crafted with feedback from businesses and from state and local governments.  

This historic step is not based on theory but on sound science and long experience with the effects of this major, unchecked source of pollution in communities across the nation.  This is tangible progress in turning the corner toward a healthier and more sustainable clean energy economy. 

The President is right to push to address this climate crisis, which will be catastrophic for future generations if we do not act now.  The EPA is doing just what Congress and the Supreme Court has directed under the Clean Air Act:  If a pollutant endangers public health and welfare, it must be limited.  As a parent and grandparent, I believe that we must confront this crisis for the sake of generations to come.  As the people of Vermont saw firsthand when Hurricane Irene tore through our state, the effects of climate change are already being felt, and the dangers we face are far too great to risk inaction.

This plan will also result in a reduction in particulate matter and ozone emissions, which will prevent thousands of premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks.  I am pleased that this plan will allow flexibility for states and will help to create a much-needed surge in renewable energy and efficiency investments.  This means new jobs in manufacturing, building trades and construction industries across the country. 

The effects of climate change may be hard to measure with precision, but surely we can all agree that taking steps to mitigate environmental impacts of harmful pollutants that have an adverse impact on the health and well-being of children and adults benefits us all.  This is a meaningful step that will make a real difference in the lives of all Americans now and in the future, and I applaud and support the President’s initiative.”

Fact sheets and details about the proposed rule available at:  http://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan 

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