Tuesday, August 04, 2015

EPA Sets Power Plant CO₂ Standards

The EPA is finally setting carbon dioxide standards for fossil fueled power plants after their authority under the Clean Air Act to do so was decided by the Supreme Court years ago. The rule, announced by Administrator Gina McCarthy and the White House, is ambitious with a goal to cut carbon emissions 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. EPA projects that the share of the nation's electricity produced by burning dirty coal will eventually drop to 27% The scheme allows individual states to meet national goals based on their power mix and unique opportunities to cut their pollution. They may use interstate trading of credits to met their goals, and take advantage of a federal matching fund for investment in clear energy projects.  In response to concerns raised by plant owners during the extensive public consultation process, the EPA extended the timeframe for mandantory reductions to begin to 2022. Public health and climate related benefits are estimated to be worth $45 billion. The agency also expects 3600 fewer premature deaths caused by air pollution while reducing the average monthly electric bill by 7%. The Supreme Court required analysis of cost versus benefits shows the rule will cost industry $8.4 billion.  For details see epa.gov/cleanpowerplan.

The United States claims to be leading the solution to a global problem. Since the government announced it was formulating a clean energy plan, Brazil and China have also announced commitments to significantly reduce carbon polution.  Predictably the reactionaries in Congress have labeled the rule "radical".  A Repugnant homeboy from fossil-fueled Oklahoma went so far as to hysterically claim, "The Obama administration has no concern for costs, no concept of reality and no respect for the rule of law."  Such hot-headed rhetoric only proves they are unfit to lead this nation.  To begin effective worldwide action preventing catastrophic climate change, governments must come together over the US initiative in Paris this year ready to reach an international agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.