The long-awaited greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plan from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally ready for the scrutiny of U.S. lawmakers and industry, while it rattles the country’s massive coal industry.
Billed as the Clean Power Plan, the June 2, 2014 proposal is designed to take carbon pollution from power plants head on, ultimately cutting the sector’s emissions some 30 per cent by 2030. That’s equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the U.S. for one year.
Power plant GHGs, particularly from coal plants, are currently the worst pollution offenders in the U.S., comprising some 40 per cent of the nation’s total emissions, says the EPA.
“We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury, sulfur, and arsenic that power plants put in our air and water. But they can dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air,” announced President Barack Obama, who spoke in support of the new plan. “It’s not smart, it’s not safe and it doesn’t make sense.”
States such as Indiana generate more than 80 per cent of their electricity from coal-fired plants. In defence of the industry, the state’s Governor, Mike Pence, came out swinging against the EPA proposal, which he called “devastating” for his state’s local economy.
“They will cost us in higher electricity rates, in lost jobs, and in lost business growth due to a lack of affordable, reliable electricity,” Pence said in a statement from his office. “Indiana will oppose these regulations using every means available.”
Pence estimates there are some 3,500 coal workers in Indiana.
Read the actual proposal here
At the heart of the Clean Power Plan proposal is a state-federal partnership to help states identify an energy path, whether it be adopting new forms of energy or adapting existing equipment to meet the new plan’s reduction targets. States can also develop plans in concert with other states.
The EPA has also created a flexible timeline for states to submit their power plans to the agency — with plans due by June 2016.
“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,” says EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, in a statement. “We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment — our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs.”
The EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold four public hearings on the proposed Clean Power Plan during the week of July 28, 2014 in the following cities: Denver, Atlanta, Washington, DC and Pittsburgh. Based on this input, EPA will finalize standards in June 2015.