WHY WE NEED THE CLEAN POWER PLAN
- In 2009, EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent greenhouse gas pollutant, accounting for nearly three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions and 82 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
- Climate change is one of the greatest environmental and public health challenges we face. Climate impacts affect all Americans’ lives – from stronger storms to longer droughts and increased insurance premiums, food prices and allergy seasons.
- 2014 was the hottest year in re
- corded history, and 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the first 15 years of this century. Recorded temperatures in the first half of 2015 were also warmer than normal.
- Overwhelmingly, the best scientists in the world, relying on troves of data and millions of measurements collected over the course of decades on land, in air and water, at sea and from space, are telling us that our activities are causing climate change.
- The most vulnerable among us – including children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease and people living in poverty – may be most at risk from the impacts of climate change.
- Fossil fuel-fired power plants are by far the largest source of U.S. CO2 emissions, making up 31 percent of U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions.
- Taking action now is critical. Reducing CO2 emissions from power plants, and driving investment in clean energy technologies strategies that do so, is an essential step in lessening the impacts of climate change and providing a more certain future for our health, our environment, and future generations.
For more: epa.gov/cleanpowerplan
6 Things Every American Should Know About the Clean Power Plan
8/3/15 By EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
Today, President Obama will unveil the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan—a historic step to cut the carbon pollution driving climate change. Here are six key things every American should know:
1. IT SLASHES THE CARBON POLLUTION FUELING CLIMATE CHANGE.
Carbon pollution from power plants is our nation’s biggest driver of climate change—and it threatens what matters most – the health of our kids, the safety of our neighborhoods, and the ability of Americans to earn a living. The Clean Power Plan sets common sense, achievable state-by-state goals to cut carbon pollution from power plants across the country. Building on proven local and state efforts, the Plan puts our nation on track to cut carbon pollution from the power sector 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, all while keeping energy reliable and affordable.
2. IT PROTECTS FAMILIES’ HEALTH.
The transition to clean energy is happening even faster than we expected—and that’s a good thing. It means carbon and air pollution are already decreasing, improving public health each and every year. The Clean Power Plan accelerates this momentum, putting us on pace to cut this dangerous pollution to historically low levels. Our transition to cleaner energy will better protect Americans from other kinds of harmful air pollution, too. By 2030, we’ll see major reductions of pollutants that can create dangerous soot and smog, translating to significant health benefits for the American people. In 2030, we’ll avoid up to 3,600 fewer premature deaths; 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children; 1,700 fewer hospital admissions; and avoid 300,000 missed days of school and work. The Clean Power Plan is a historic step forward to give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve.
3. IT PUTS STATES IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT.
The Clean Power Plan sets uniform carbon pollution standards for power plants across the country—but sets individual state goals based on states’ current energy mix and where they have opportunities to cut pollution. States then customize plans to meet their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses, and utilities. States can run their more efficient plants more often, switch to cleaner fuels, use more renewable energy, and take advantage of emissions trading and energy efficiency options.
Because states requested it, EPA is also proposing a model rule states can adopt right away–one that’s cost-effective, guarantees they meet EPA’s requirements, and will let their power plants use interstate trading right away. But states don’t have to use our plan—they can cut carbon pollution in whatever way makes the most sense for them.
The uniform national rates in the Clean Power Plan are reasonable and achievable, because no plant has to meet them alone or all at once. Instead, they have to meet them as part of the grid and over time. In short, the Clean Power Plan puts states in the driver’s seat.
4. IT’S BUILT ON INPUT FROM MILLIONS OF AMERICANS.
The Clean Power Plan reflects unprecedented input from the American people, including 4.3 million comments on the draft plan and input from hundreds of meetings with states, utilities, communities, and others. When folks raised questions about equity and fairness, we listened. That’s why EPA is setting uniform standards to make sure similar plants are treated the same across the country.
When states and utilities expressed concern about how fast states would need to cut emissions under the draft Plan, we listened. That’s why the Clean Power Plan extends the timeframe for mandatory emissions reductions to begin by two years, until 2022, so utilities will have time to make the upgrades and investments they need to.
But to encourage states to stay ahead of the curve and not delay planned investments, or delay starting programs that need time to pay off, we’re creating a Clean Energy Incentive Program to help states transition to clean energy faster.
It’s a voluntary matching fund program states can use to encourage early investment in wind and solar power projects, as well as energy efficiency projects in low-income communities. Thanks to the valuable input we heard from the public, the final rule is even more fair and more flexible, while cutting more pollution.
5. IT WILL SAVE US BILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR.
With the Clean Power Plan, America is leading by example—showing the world that climate action is an incredible economic opportunity. By 2030, the net public health and climate-related benefits from the Clean Power Plan are estimated to be worth $45 billion every year. And, by design, the Clean Power Plan is projected to cut the average American’s monthly electricity bill by 7% in 2030. We’ll get these savings by cutting energy waste and beefing up energy efficiency across the board—steps that make sense for our health, our future, and our wallets.
6. IT PUTS THE U.S. IN A POSITION TO LEAD ON CLIMATE ACTION.
Today, the U.S. is generating three times more wind energy and 20 times more solar power than when President Obama took office. And the solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. For the first time in nearly three decades, we’re importing less foreign oil than we’re producing domestically—and using less overall.
Our country’s clean energy transition is happening faster than anyone anticipated—even as of last year when we proposed this rule. The accelerating trend toward clean power, and the growing success of energy efficiency efforts, mean carbon emissions are already going down, and the pace is picking up. The Clean Power Plan will secure and accelerate these trends, building momentum for a cleaner energy future.
Climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. With the Clean Power Plan, we’re putting America in a position to lead. Since the Plan was proposed last year, the U.S., China and Brazil – three of the world’s largest economies – have announced commitments to significantly reduce carbon pollution. We’re confident other nations will come to the table ready to reach an international climate agreement in Paris later this year.