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Here’s Why The Carbon Regulations EPA Will Announce Monday Are So Important
Jeff Spross, Climate Progress
(30 May 2014)
A guide to Obama’s new rules to cut carbon emissions from power plants
Brad Plumer, Vox
On Monday, the Obama administration announced its most sweeping policy yet to address global warming — a proposed rule to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from the nation’s power plants as much as 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
How can Obama do this without Congress? He’ll be working through the Environmental Protection Agency, which already has the legal authority to regulate US greenhouse gases…
Give me the basics. What is the EPA doing?
On June 2, the EPA proposed a new rule to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions from the nation’s existing coal- and gas-fired power plants — the first-ever rule of its kind.
For now, this is only a proposal. The EPA will spend the next 120 days gathering comments from electric utilities, environmentalists, and anyone else who cares to weigh in. It will then work on a final regulation that takes effect in June 2015. States will then have until June 2016 to draw up plans to implement the rule.
The EPA will set different emissions targets for each state — which, when taken together, will aim to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from the nation’s power sector as much as 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Electric utilities in each state will be given a variety of options for cutting their emissions — using more efficient technology, boosting their use of solar or wind or nuclear power, or even joining regional cap-and-trade systems that require companies to pay to emit carbon-dioxide.
There’s a lot at stake here. Coal and natural gas plants were responsible for about 38 percent of all US carbon-dioxide emissions in 2012:
Sources of US carbon dioxide emissions 2012
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
So, if you like, this is equivalent to a roughly 6 percent cut in overall US emissions. (Or about 1 percent of global emissions.)…
(1 June 2014)
EPA unveils far-reaching climate plan targeting power plants
Evan Halper, LA Times
The Obama administration Monday morning unveiled its far-reaching proposal to curb climate change by substantially restricting emissions at power plants, a plan that promises to set off intense debate across the country amid the president’s boldest action yet to reshape the energy landscape.
Under the proposal, the administration is seeking to reduce greenhouse gases by 30% from their 2005 level by the year 2030. The plan gives local officials wide leeway in how to go about meeting that goal but it represents a major challenge for many of the states that remain heavily dependent on coal; some are already girding to fight the president on the proposed new rules.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s rollout of the 645-page plan launches a yearlong period of comment and review. The 2005 baseline year chosen by the administration reflects a time when emissions of greenhouse gases were at a peak. They have been reduced by about 10% since then, largely because many power companies have shifted toward cleaner-burning natural gas amid its recent boom. Meeting the EPA goal would require a further 17% reduction nationwide.
“This goal is achievable because innovations in the production, distribution and use of electricity are already making the power sector more efficient and sustainable while maintaining an affordable, reliable and diverse energy mix,” the preamble to the EPA plan states.
Still, many lawmakers and major business groups warn such a mandate would cause irreparable damage to the economy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a staunch opponent of many initiatives to curb climate change, projects that the rule would cost the economy $50 billion annually, but the EPA concluded differently.
“The EPA projects that, in 2030, the significant reductions in the harmful carbon pollution and in other air pollution, to which this rule would lead, would result in net climate and health benefits of $48 billion to $82 billion,” the agency proposal says. “At the same time, coal and natural gas would remain the two leading sources of electricity generation in the U.S., with each providing more than 30 percent of the projected generation.”…
(2 June 2014)
Obama’s New Plan To Fight Climate Change Is A Really Big Deal
Tim McDonnell, Mother Jones
Update [Sunday, June 1, 6:30pm ET]: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that on Monday the EPA will announce sweeping new limits on carbon dioxide pollution from the nation’s existing power plants. The plan is said to require a nationwide reduction in carbon emissions by an average of 30 percent over 2005 levels by 2030, with different specific targets for each state. The rules, which will have a one-year public review period before becoming final, could represent one of the biggest actions taken by the US government to slow climate change.
On Monday, President Obama is set to unveil details of the cornerstone of his climate plan: Limits on carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s fleet of existing power plants. The rules are likely to be the biggest step toward the president’s goal of cutting US greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. The rules are already taking heat from the fossil fuel industry and Republicans in Congress, despite having the support of a majority of Americans. So what’s all the hullabaloo about, exactly? Here’s what you need to know…
(30 May 2014)
Coal power plant teaser image via shutterstock. Reproduced at Resilience.org with permission.