The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the so-called Clean Power Plan, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing powerplants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. In a statement, EPA said that this would protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.
As always the anti-environment wing of the Republican Party and the US Chamber of Commerce vowed to fight the regulation – ordered by President Obama – in the courts. This proposal follows steps laid out in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.
EPA’s proposed standard is required by a 2007 Supreme Court ruling ordering the agency to move forward with regulation of greenhouse gases. Powerplants are the largest concentrated source of emissions in the United States, accounting for one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.
EPA’s proposed standard is required by a 2007 Supreme Court ruling ordering the agency to move forward with regulation of greenhouse gases.
Under the Clean Power Plan, EPA is proposing guidelines that build on trends already underway in states and the power sector to cut carbon pollution from existing powerplants, making them more efficient and less polluting.
By 2030, the measures EPA is taking will:
- Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30% 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%; 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;
- Shrink electricity bills about 8% by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.
As of right now, 47 states have utilities that run demand-side energy efficiency programs, 38 have renewable portfolio standards or goals, and 10 have market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs. Together, EPA clams that these programs represent a “proven, common-sense approach to cutting carbon pollution—one in which electricity is generated and used as efficiently as possible and which promotes a greater reliance on lower-carbon power sources.”
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