Climate Change Building Steam: EPA, President Obama Join Forces to Sweep Existing Power Plants

Today tPower Sourceshe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the direction of President Obama, released the Clean Power Plan proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, which is deemed the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The proposal comes almost one year after the President released a Presidential Memorandum on “Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards,” and closely follows the May 6th, 2014 Third U.S. National Climate Assessment. The proposal notice is being submitted for publication in the Federal Register to be recognized as an official regulatory document.

In a related EPA press release, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated, “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. 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.” A video of her statements is available here.

The press release also highlighted the guidelines of the Clean Power Plan:

“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.”

In the unprecedented push to hold states accountable for carbon emissions, state and federal government partnerships will formulate plans and submit them to the EPA. Due in June 2016, the plans will provide for specific goals for reducing carbon pollution, respective to needs of each state. The EPA encourages, but does not require, cooperation across state borders. In order to promote discussion and mutual understanding of the fine print, the EPA is offering four public hearings on the subject during the week of July 28, 2014: Denver, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and Pittsburgh.

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