EPA plan targets carbon pollution from power plants

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 2, 2014 - The Environmental Protection Agency released its draft proposal for cutting carbon pollution from existing power plants - the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S.

The EPA said the draft rule follows through on what it calls the “common sense steps” laid out by President Obama in his Climate Action Plan and in a June 2013 Presidential Memorandum. The agency said that by the target year of 2030 the plan will:

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-Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels. That's equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the U.S. 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.

-Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” EPA chief Gina McCarthy said in a news release. “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.” 

At an official draft rule release event at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., today, McCarthy stressed the long-term costs of climate change. “This is not just about disappearing polar bears and melting ice caps, though I like polar bears and know about melting ice caps,” she said of the EPA action. “This is about protecting our health and protecting our homes.”

However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report last week saying that the plan will cost the American economy over $50 billion a year between now and 2030. The chamber said the report, by the organization's Institute for 21st Century Energy, was based on the Obama administration's emissions reduction goals.

“Our analysis shows that Americans will pay significantly more for electricity, see slower economic growth and fewer jobs, and have less disposable income, while a slight reduction in carbon emissions will be overwhelmed by global increases,” Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Energy Institute, said in the release.

The EPA noted that power plants account for about a third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. It also said that while there are limits in place for levels of other power plant pollutants, including arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.

EPA said public comments on the plan will be accepted for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register. It also said it will hold four public hearings on the proposed Clean Power Plan during the week of July 28, in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. A final plan will be released in June 2015.

This story was updated at 11:45 am.
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