Advocates Await Clean Power Plan Regulations
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to implement new rules under its Clean Power Plan now that the public comment period ended on Monday. Advocacy groups across New York urged supporters to express the importance of the rules in reducing the impacts of climate change on the state and the nation.
The EPA Clean Power Plan builds on a 2013 federal rule that limits carbon emissions on any new power plants. It requires a 30 percent cut in carbon pollution from existing power plants by 2030 based on 2005 levels.
Adirondack Council Spokesman John Sheehan says the Clean Power Plan is the first attempt by the federal government to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that are responsible for one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. “This would bring tremendous advances in public health and well being. It’s designed to accomplish this at the lowest possible cost. It really does employ a wide range of tools to reduce carbon and it’s flexible so that the power companies can make their own decisions about how to get to the new emissions levels.”
The Clean Power Plan sets state level goals and gives states flexibility to develop implementation plans. Environmental Advocates of New York Air and Energy Director Conor Bambrick finds that places the Empire State in a unique position to be a leader in setting standards. “New York has already had huge success in reducing carbon emissions from power plants across the state. We’ve been a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative since 2008. That is a cap and trade initiative with eight other states that has set limits on climate pollution. It’s been a huge economic success for New York. It’s been an environmental success. We really think it could be a model for the rest of the nation to follow in complying with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.”
Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth calls the plan a good start, but he would like a more aggressive strategy. “I realize that fossil fuels are going to continue to be an important power source for the United States. But reducing the carbon dioxide output of our power sector is the easiest and the most immediate way that we can address climate change. And we’re essentially with the EPA standards waiting fifteen years to reach targets that should be attainable in less time. It makes sense to do it now.”
Citizens Campaign for the Environment Associate Executive Director Brian Smith says they too are encouraging the EPA to implement stricter regulations. “Even though there may be flexibility from state to state, the EPA needs to push every state further by pushing renewables and addressing other greenhouse gas emissions like methane. You know from Irene to Sandy and to blizzards in Buffalo it’s something we cannot ignore. We absolutely have to move forward with addressing the root cause of climate change. And that’s slashing greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to the EPA, there are currently no national limits on carbon emissions. Climate and health benefits from the Clean Power Plan are estimated to reach between $55 to $93 billion in 2030.