On June 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its Clean Power Plan guidelines, seeking to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
According to the EPA, the plan seeks to achieve the following by 2030:
• Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels.
• Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent.
• 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.
• Reduce electricity bills roughly 8 percent by through energy efficiency practices.
Implementation will involve the federal government partnering with states to set forth a course of action toward achieving the standards outlined under the plan. States are required to draft a plan using existing or new energy generation, as well as methods for pollution control, with the reduction of carbon pollution being the ultimate goal. In developing these plans, states are allowed a degree of flexibility to meet their individual goals. The states can use any number of approved carbon reduction methods, as well as team with other states to create regional plans.
States have two years to submit their plans to the EPA for approval, with the possibility of extending the time period through a two-step plan submission process. Many states have made significant strides toward carbon reduction to date, and the EPA’s plan will allow those states to build upon practices already in place.
"Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in announcing the plan. “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."
The agency has allowed a comment period of 120 days following the plan’s publication in the Federal Register. Public hearings on the plan will be held in late July in Denver, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Pittsburgh.
IMPACT ON THE WIND INDUSTRY
As states move forward and develop their plans to submit to EPA, they will undoubtedly look toward renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, as alternative means of generating electricity.
The American Wind Energy Association, less than a month removed from its annual WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, of which carbon reduction was a primary theme, is aligning itself with the administration’s climate effort.
In response to the June 2 announcement, AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan released the following statement:
As one of the biggest, fastest, and cheapest ways to reduce carbon pollution, wind energy can play a central role in state plans to achieve the reduction targets appropriately set by the EPA.
Reducing carbon pollution through the deployment of wind energy can be done in a manner that keeps electricity affordable and reliable, creates jobs, and supports local economic development. This can be seen in the recent 43 percent reduction in the cost of wind energy over four years, the tens of thousands of jobs supported by the wind industry throughout the country, and the 560 factories across 43 states now churning out made-in-the-USA parts for wind turbines.
The good news is that meeting this new rule is very doable. Wind energy is already affordably and reliably reducing power sector emissions by more than five percent nationally — reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 10 percent in 11 states so far, and making some reductions in nearly every state. And, wind energy is poised to play an even more significant role, while providing a much-needed economic boost in many communities and protecting electric ratepayers through long-term price guarantees.
The wind energy industry strongly supports moving forward with the process to develop this first-ever rule from the EPA to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. We will be reviewing the proposed rule closely and comment on the specifics at the appropriate time. For now, we are pleased it has been issued and that EPA has undertaken such a thorough outreach process in developing it. We look forward to continuing to work with states, utilities and other stakeholders as the EPA rulemaking process moves forward and the drafting of state implementation plans begins.
Also a month prior to the EPA announcement, the Association released “The Clean Air Benefits of Wind Energy,” a report outlining — on a state-by-state basis — wind energy’s efficacy in the states’ compliance with the EPA plan.
REACTION TO THE PLAN
Following the announcement of the Clean Power Plan, reaction from advocates and opponents was mixed. Below are released or published statements from selected advocates and opponents in the environmental, public health, labor, government, and international arenas.
“Today, the president made good on his promise to American families that his administration would tackle the climate crisis, and clean up and modernize the way we power our country.
“Climate disruption is the greatest challenge facing our generation. Until now, power plants have been allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air, driving dangerous climate disruption, and fueling severe drought, wildfires, heat waves and superstorms. Extreme weather, and the costs to Americans’ health and wallets, will only worsen unless we act.”
Environmental Defense Fund
"This historic proposal would, for the first time, place meaningful limits on climate pollution from power plants. It's the single largest step our country has yet taken to address the threat of climate change, and the kind of leadership we need to meet this urgent challenge.
"Right now we set limits for pollutants such as mercury and arsenic, yet power plants can put an unlimited amount of carbon pollution into the air. A smart, strong limit on that pollution will be a great stride toward protecting public health and building a prosperous clean energy economy."
Natural Resources Defense Council
"The EPA's proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants for the first time ever is a giant leap forward in protecting the health of all Americans and future generations.
"It sets fair targets for each state and empowers the states with the flexibility to craft the best local solutions, using an array of compliance tools. And if states embrace the huge energy efficiency opportunities, consumers will save on their electric bills and see hundreds of thousands of jobs created across the country."
Environmental and Energy Study Institute
“Climate change is happening and carbon emissions must be addressed. As an organization concerned about providing solid information to inform pragmatic policy solutions to solve difficult problems, EESI is pleased that EPA is seeking to encourage innovation and multiple approaches for states in the quest to reduce carbon emissions. Recognizing that states are all different, this approach provides opportunities to encourage smart actions that can enhance economic competitiveness and improve public health while reducing emissions.”
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
“The EPA’s proposed rule setting carbon standards for power plants will help protect public health by improving air quality and reducing exposure to particle pollution.
“With more than 25 million Americans, including more than 6.5 million children, living with asthma, and countless others suffering from the health effects of carbon pollution and climate change, we must act. Less carbon in the air we breathe protects the health of all Americans.”
Harold P. Wimmer,
National President and CEO
American Lung Association
“Power plant pollution makes people sick and cuts short lives. Cleaning up carbon pollution will have an immediate, positive impact on public health; particularly for those who suffer from chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Steps to clean up carbon pollution can reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, both poisonous emissions from coal-fired power plants that are also major precursors to lethal ozone and particulate matter pollution.”
“We urge the EPA to set a final standard within a year and will work with health partners across the country to support the strongest limits on carbon pollution. Anything less shortchanges our future, our children and our health.”
Gov. Deval Patrick,
“I applaud EPA’s new carbon rules, which will unleash clean energy innovation and reduce energy costs while protecting our environment and public health. This is a critical step in moving the nation toward a clean energy future, one that we’ve already embraced in Massachusetts with great results. The Obama Administration is showing leadership in clean energy for American citizens today, and in the future.”
Gov. Rick Perry,
“President Obama's decision to impose drastic new restrictions on America's energy industry is the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans, and fuel both our homes and our nation's economic growth. Americans have seen the disastrous results of federal mandates with Obamacare, and these rules will only further stifle our economy's sluggish recovery and increase energy costs for American families. If President Obama is truly interested in an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, he would do well to look to states like Texas that have seen tremendous success at diversifying energy sources while protecting the environment from harmful pollutants.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley,
“Power plants are the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution, representing 34 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. By targeting the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions, President Obama is moving the United States in the right direction toward strongly emphasizing renewable energy, improving air quality for our vulnerable populations, and mitigating the effects of severe weather events and flooding on our coastlines and low-lying areas.
“The climate-related actions in the Plan show that we can use the prospect of a carbon constrained world as the means to invent a more prosperous future, to drive innovation, education, industry, jobs, and expansion of opportunity..”
Gov. Steve Beshear,
“During my entire term as Governor, I have remained steadfast in my support of Kentucky’s important coal and manufacturing industries, and the affordable energy and good jobs they provide the Commonwealth and the nation. That’s why I strongly opposed and will continue to fight the rule the federal government released last year for new power plants, which I believe would decimate Kentucky’s economy.
“We plan on being very active and vocal during the 120-day comment period to ensure Kentucky’s families and businesses are protected. The President’s desire to protect our climate is one that I share, but that desire must be attained while also providing economic security to our families and businesses.”
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin
“The EPA’s new rules are an extensive 645 pages long and at first glance, there are several proposals that cause us great concern,” Gov. Tomblin said. “If these rules are put into place, our manufacturers may be forced to look overseas for more reasonable energy costs, taking good paying jobs with them and leaving hardworking West Virginians without jobs to support their families. We must make every effort to create opportunities for our young people, not hinder them.”
Cecil E. Roberts
United Mine Workers of America
“The proposed rule issued today by the Environmental Protection Agency will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change:
“This is a significant move by the Obama administration. National efforts are crucial in fighting climate change, and in the UK we've successfully cut industrial emissions, particularly from the power sector.”
“We must strive to get all nations to rise to the urgency of the climate challenge. That way there's a real chance the world can sign up to a new global climate deal in Paris next year. These US proposals have come at a crucial time, and could shift the global debate.”
Pembina Institute (Canada)
“The EPA’s climate rules send a strong signal that the United States is serious about addressing its largest source of greenhouse gas pollution. In contrast, the Canadian government continues to resist action on addressing its major emissions growth problem – the rapidly increasing greenhouse gas pollution from oilsands production.
"While Canada has the same 2020 emissions target as the U.S., our federal government has failed to produce a plan to meet its goal. As a result, Environment Canada projects that we will miss our 2020 target by more than the current emissions of Canada's entire electricity sector.”
AWEA White Paper: “The Clean Air Benefits of Wind Energy”