The Clean Power Plan – how US can reduce greenhouse gas emissions without losing money

Later today at the White House, President Obama and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will officially release the final Clean Power Plan, carbon pollution guidance for the nation that is also a historic step in efforts to meet and constrain climate change. Briefly stated, it shows how the US can reduce greenhouse gas emissions without losing money.

Power plant and visible emissions (optimist.com)

Today’s release constitutes the final Clean Power Plan, which has been in the works for years. The Clean Power Plan establishes the first-ever national standards to limit atmospheric carbon pollution from power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. It follows on from other successful public health measures by reducing soot and other toxic emissions, aiming to reap continuing and increased benefits from the landmark bipartisan Clean Air Act the United States enacted over 45 years ago.

EPA received 4 million comments that public and private individuals and corporations submitted in response to the draft. The final plan reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. In line with recent findings that point to faster and more destructive climate events than those estimated before, the final plan constitutes a full 9% more reductions than the proposal.

States, cities, companies, and individuals have already begun to move to cleaner sources of energy. So far, these state efforts have given the CPP a good head start:

  • All 50 states have demand-side energy efficiency programs.
  • 37 states have renewable portfolio standards or goals.
  • 10 states have already implemented market-based greenhouse gas reduction programs.
  • Half the nation (25 states) has energy efficiency standards or goals in place.

More details about state actions under the final Clean Power Plan:

  • CPP lets states choose how to meet carbon standards.
  • CPP provides states more time and stronger incentives to deploy clean energy immediately
  • CPP sets state targets fairly and in a way that directly includes input from states, utilities, business, other stakeholders, and the public.

In addition, the plan has gained strength from the facts that solar electricity generation has increased more than 20-fold in the past seven years, and electricity from wind has more than tripled.

The White House characterizes today’s final plan as “a fair, flexible program that will strengthen the fast-growing trend toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy.” It ensures long-term clean energy investment, continued reliability of electric infrastructure, affordable and clean energy for all Americans, and climate action that places the United States among important world leaders.

It does not stop at merely stating principles. The measure also includes a proposed federal implementation plan. From the White House news release:

“We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged. The effects of climate change are already being felt across the nation. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Extreme weather events – from more severe droughts and wildfires in the West to record heat waves – and sea level rise are hitting communities across the country…. The most vulnerable among us–including children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease, and people living in poverty – are most at risk from the impacts of climate change. Taking action now is critical.”

Stay with CleanTechnica for more about the Clean Power Plan, including exclusive in-depth interviews, technical detail, analysis, and further developments over the next days and weeks to come.

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