EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Miracle or Misguided?

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EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Miracle or Misguided?

The EPA recently announced a Clean Power Plan that will reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 32% by 2030, but is it enough to save our economy and environment?
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - 9:00am

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living


President Obama got it right when he recently said, “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”

In an effort to become the first United States President to take comprehensive action against climate change, Obama, in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced earlier this week the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide emitted from power plants.

While the EPA already monitors and limits smog and soot pollution, as well as toxins like mercury, from power plants, it has not previously controlled carbon dioxide emissions.

Through the proposed Clean Power Plan, the EPA will allow each state to formulate customized plans to reach specific emissions reduction goals by 2030, which, in aggregate, will represent a 32% reduction in total carbon emissions (relative to 2005 numbers.)

Even though the final plan is actually 9% more stringent than the originally proposed version, the EPA is cutting states a break by allowing them two extra years for plan development and execution (extending the deadline from 2020 to 2022,) enabling the states to have more time to adopt renewables like wind and solar and implement energy efficiency measures.

The EPA is also offering incentives for states to comply sooner rather than later, offering matching grants for those states that hit reduction targets before the plan’s stated deadlines and establishing a clean energy incentive program that will provide credits for electricity generated from renewables in 2020 and 2021. The credits are tradable between states, creating economic incentive for renewables investment.

Some states are pushing back, threatening to boycott the process of developing carbon reduction plans. However, the EPA has been clear that if a state fails to develop and implement a plan, the EPA will dictate the rules on the state’s behalf.

Advocates of the Clean Power Plan celebrate the anticipated environmental benefits of reducing carbon emissions, and they claim that emissions limits will stimulate innovation and expedite the transition to a clean economy.  Additionally, the Obama administration estimates that the plan will result in $46 billion in benefits to the nation by 2030, mostly in reduced health costs from ailments like asthma and respiratory disease.

The plan has received unprecedented support from major corporations like General Mills, Mars Inc, Nestle, Staples, and Unilever, who joined with hundreds of other companies to sign and send letters to 29 governors across the country. The letters stated that “Clean energy solutions are cost effective and innovative ways to drive investment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Increasingly, businesses rely on renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to cut costs and improve corporation performance.”


Keywords: Environment & Climate Change | Clean Power Plan | EPA | Energy | Energy Efficiency | Environmental Policy | Environmental Politics | Green Builder Media | Renewable Energy | Sara Gutterman | environmental policy

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living