The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final version of the Clean Power Plan - the first ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The Clean Power Plan takes the necessary steps to reduce this dangerous greenhouse gas effectively protecting our children and future generations from the effects of climate change.
The EPA sought the public’s involvement throughout the regulation process, which resulted in around the largest public engagement campaign the agency has ever conducted and over 4 million comments from the public, environmentalists, public health groups and industry officials regarding the proposal. League supporters generated over 90,000 messages to President Obama and the EPA over the course of the rules finalization process. League supporters also attended the public hearings and listening sessions that the EPA held across the country. The final rule reflects much of the feedback that the EPA received.
The Clean Power Plan is the biggest and most ambitious action the U.S. has ever taken to tackle climate change. It will save lives, improve health, spur economic growth and protect our environment. Here are just a few key parts of the plan:
Cuts Carbon Pollution from Power Plants
Carbon pollution is the number one contributor to climate change. Power plants contribute over 30 percent of the total U.S. carbon emissions. The Clean Power Plan will cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030 based on 2005 levels. This means people will live longer, our planet will be cleaner and our economy will be strengthened by promoting a stronger emphasis on renewable energy.
Provides States Flexibility to Meet State Goals
Drafting State Implementation Plans is the next step to a successful Clean Power Plan. States must use the common sense building blocks, defined in the Clean Power Plan, to meet state goals outlined by the EPA. Plans for implementation are due in September 2016, but after submitting an initial plan, states can request an extension of up to two years to finalize their plans. Even if states are unable to draft their own plans, a proposed federal implementation plan will fill the gap any state is unable to fill.
Invests in Renewable Energy
In the League’s comments to the EPA we called for a proposal “strengthened by providing for greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency in displacing carbon emissions from power plants.” The final Clean Power Plan makes aggressive and necessary investments in clean energy technologies, resulting in 30 percent more renewable energy generation by 2030 while continuing to lower costs. It also gives states a reward for making early investments in clean energy by establishing a Clean Energy Incentive Program.
Protects Public Health
It’s not just the environment that is affected by climate change, public health will also improve thanks to the Clean Power Plan. Cutting carbon pollution will reduce premature deaths by nearly 90 percent. It will also lead to 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children by decreasing the pollutants that contribute to this health issue.
Paves the way for an International Climate Agreement
In December, leaders from around the world will meet in Paris for the UN Climate Change Conference. Countries from around the world have already made preliminary pledges to reduce carbon emissions. The Clean Power Plan is a major step in international leadership. The US coming to the table with a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions will go a long way in procuring commitments from others to do the same.
The rule may be finalized, but there is still more work to come as states work to draft plans for implementation and we work to fight off attacks from big polluters and their allies in Congress. It will be up to all of us to encourage our state and local leaders to fulfill the commitments of the Clean Power Plan in our own communities. The League will continue to work to ensure that the Clean Power Plan is implemented properly in every state and that these life-saving measures are enacted. Join the League in thanking EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and President Obama for their leadership in fighting climate change and protecting public health.