December 08, 2012
Plan for Regulating Emissions from Existing Power Plants Proposed
by Robert Kropp
The Natural Resources Defense Council states in an issues brief that state-specific standards from
the Environmental Protection Agency could lead to a steep drop in emissions and significant cost
On the night of his reelection, President Obama said, "We can shape an agenda that says we can
create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international
leader." But after a first term in which too little was accomplished, and an election campaign
notable for the absence of a debate on climate change, are there reasonable grounds for optimism?
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), there are. In a recently
brief, the nonprofit calculates that by acting on its authority under the Clean Air Act, the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can issue regulations that would contribute to a 26% decrease
in emissions from existing power plants by 2020. By 2025, the NRDC states, the emissions decrease
would reach 34%.
"The President put climate change on the national agenda, and NRDC's plan
shows how the United States can make big reductions in carbon pollution that drive climate change,
with a flexible approach that promotes clean energy investments and delivers big benefits for
Americans' health," said Peter Lehner, NRDC's Executive Director.
Furthermore, the cost to
industry of implementing such regulations would be $4 billion in 2020, a small amount compared to
the savings. "The benefitsó in saved lives, reduced illnesses, and climate change avoided ówould be
$25 billion to 60 billion, 6 to 15 times greater than the costs," the brief contends.
NRDC proposes that EPA issue state-specific regulations on emissions from existing power plants.
"The emissions standard for each state would be an overall emission rate average of all fossil fuel
plants in the state," the brief states. "An individual plant could emit at a higher or lower rate."
Also, "state-regulated energy efficiency programs could earn credits for avoided power generation,
and avoided pollution," it continues.
"This approach would stimulate investments of more
than $90 billion in energy efficiency and renewables between now and 2020, boosting local and state
economies," the brief concludes.
"Our proposal would eliminate hundreds of millions of
tons of carbon pollution, save thousands of lives and stimulate a surge in clean energy and energy
efficiency investments," Dan Lashof, NRDC's Director of Climate and Clean Air programs, said.
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