Today, President Barack Obama released details of the Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new set of regulations under the Clean Air Act aimed at reducing pollution emitted by the power sector—which accounts for 31 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions, and is linked to climate change and health issues such as lung disease in children and the elderly.
“Today after working with states and cities and power companies, the EPA is setting the first ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants,” Obama said during a press conference at the White House.
Under the plan, the government will give states, tribes and U.S. territories individualized reduction goals and options for how they can meet them, such as increasing plant efficiency, increasing the share of electricity drawn from renewable sources, and moving from coal to natural gas production. It then lets them create and implement their own plans to make coal-, oil- and natural gas-fired plants fall in line with the interim and final requirements, which must be met by 2030. The states must also craft strategies to include communities that are primarily made up on people of color and those with low-incomes in the formulation of their plans.
If the plan is successfully implemented, the EPA estimates that by 2030, carbon pollution from power plants would drop by 32 percent (from the 2005 levels). Sulfur dioxide levels would be reduced by 90 percent, and nitrogen oxides would go down by 72 percent. Overall, they estimate that the changes would avoid 1,700 heart attacks, 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks and more than 300,000 missed work and school days. It also projects an $84 annual reduction in electricity bills by 2030. In addition, there will be incentives to encourage states to push plants to make investments in wind and solar power, as well as to push energy efficiency investments in low-income areas.