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Power plants account for almost forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. That’s more than every car, truck, and plane in the U.S. combined. Photo: alohaspirit/iStock
Power plants account for almost forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. That’s more than every car, truck, and plane in the U.S. combined.
On August Three, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized fresh rules, or standards, that will reduce carbon emissions from power plants for the very first time. Previously, power plants were permitted to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere — no rules were in effect that limited their emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary driver of global heating.
These standards, known as the Clean Power Plan, have been developed under the Clean Air Act, an act of Congress that requires the EPA to take steps to reduce air pollution that harms the public’s health.
These historic standards represent the most significant chance in years to help curb the growing consequences of climate switch.
How the Clean Power Plan works
The Clean Power Plan establishes state-by-state targets for carbon emissions reductions, and it offers a limber framework under which states may meet those targets. The final version of the rule would reduce national electric current sector emissions by an estimated thirty two percent below two thousand five levels by 2030.
The plan provides for a number of options to cut carbon emissions and determines state emissions reduction targets by estimating the extent to which states can take advantage of each of them. Options for cutting emissions include investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, natural gas, and nuclear power, and shifting away from coal-fired power. The final rule also takes steps to limit a rush to natural gas.
Targets differ across states because of each state’s unique mix of electricity-generation resources—and also because of technological feasibilities, costs, and emissions reduction potentials, all of which vary across the country. States are free to combine any of the options in a limber manner to meet their targets. States can also join together in multi-state or regional compacts to find the lowest cost options for reducing their carbon emissions, including through emissions trading programs.
States must submit a final plan, or an initial plan with a request for an extension, by September 6, 2016. Extensions of up to two years, until September 6, 2018, may be granted by the EPA.
Our analysis of the Clean Power Plan
Our extensive analyses, fact sheets, and blog posts cover many aspects of the final Clean Power Plan, with a particular concentrate on the strong role that renewable energy and energy efficiency can play in reducing carbon emissions.
- States of Progress:Analysis shows that existing clean energy commitments put most states in a strong position to meet their emissions reduction benchmarks and final targets in the Clean Power Plan. (August 13, 2015)
- Accelerating Toward a Clean Energy Economy:Federal renewable energy tax credits and the Clean Power Plan provide a powerful one-two punch for boosting clean energy development. (May Ten, 2016)
- Financing Clean Energy: Cost-Effective Implements for State Compliance with the Clean Power Plan—Green banks suggest a promising avenue to help states reduce emissions from existing power plants and achieve their EPA Clean Power Plan targets.
- Beyond the Clean Power Plan: The cumulative costs, including transmission, are essentially the same for both a business-as-usual script and a screenplay that cuts CO2 emissions from power plants by forty two percent and achieves thirty percent renewable energy by 2030.
- The Clean Power Plan Chance: The United States can affordably cut global heating emissions, chart a course toward a clean energy future, and produce significant health and economic benefits to all Americans. (March 24, 2016)
- Meeting—and Exceeding—the Clean Power Plan in Virginia: A sturdy plan to cut emissions, produce significant economic benefits for all Virginians, and chart a cost-effective path to a clean energy future. (January 14, 2016)
- Meeting the Clean Power Plan in Pennsylvania: A cost-effective pathway for Pennsylvania to cut global heating emissions and supply significant health and economic benefits for all of its residents. (February Legitimate, 2016)
- Meeting the Clean Power Plan in Minnesota: Fresh analysis shows that a clean energy transition based on strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies would supply significant health and economic benefits. (February 23, 2016)
- Meeting the Clean Power Plan in Illinois: Illinois could greatly enhance its clean energy resources, cost-effectively conform with the emissions reductions required by the Clean Power Plan, and reap significant economic and public health benefits. (February 24, 2016)
- Meeting the Clean Power Plan in Fresh Mexico: Fresh Mexico can cut global heating emissions and produce significant economic and health benefits for all its residents. (March Ten, 2016)
- UCS Technical Comments on the Proposed Federal Plan and Model Trading Rules for the Clean Power Plan (January 21, 2016)
For the most latest analysis and insights on the Clean Power Plan from our experts and analysts, visit the UCS blog, The Equation:
Fact sheets, reports, and analyses of the draft Clean Power Plan include:
- States of Progress:Analysis shows that existing commitments to clean energy put most states on track to meet the draft Clean Power Plan’s two thousand twenty emissions-reduction benchmarks. (June 2015)
- Strengthening the EPA’s Clean Power Plan through Greater Use of Renewable Energy:Analysis of the draft Clean Power Plan exposed that the EPA could almost dual the amount of cost-effective renewable energy in their state targets—from twelve percent of total two thousand thirty U.S. electrified sales to twenty three percent. (October 2014)
- Tapping Renewables and Efficiency to Meet Carbon Standards for Power Plants (PDF): Fact sheet outlines how policy makers can employ renewables and efficiency to reduce global heating emissions from the electro-therapy sector. (May 2014)
- Renewables on Regional Power Grids (PDF): Fact sheet highlights how regional grids have made renewable energy integration much less challenging than once predicted. (July 2014)
- Financing Clean Energy: Cost-Effective Devices for State Compliance with the Clean Power Plan:This report highlights the potential of “green banks” and other innovative financing mechanisms to help states deploy more renewable energy and energy efficiency and achieve their EPA Clean Power Plan targets. (July 2015)
- Climate Game Changer Analysis: Analysis shows how a carbon standard, combined with strengthened renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, can cut power plant emissions in half by 2030. (May 2014)
- UCS Technical Comments on the draft Clean Power Plan — Executive Summary (PDF)
- UCS Technical Comments on the draft Clean Power Plan — Total Comments (PDF)
Natural gas vs. renewable energy: States face crucial decisions
As states develop their plans to reduce carbon emissions, they face crucial decisions that will affect their electro-therapy systems—and the consumers who rely on them—for decades to come. In particular, states must cautiously evaluate the risks of substantially shifting toward natural gas against the benefits of ramping up renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
Renewable energy offers a cost-effective solution that produces acute reductions in carbon emissions while providing substantial economic and health benefits to states and local communities. Notably, these include stable prices for electrical play generated from renewable energy sources because once a facility is constructed, the “fuel”—wind and solar energy—is free.
In contrast, natural gas is a carbon-emitting fossil fuel with a volatile price history. While natural gas offers clear advantages over coal, over-relying on it for electric current creates serious economic and public health risks for consumers and states and fails to provide a long-term solution to climate switch.
Take Act: Now that the final Clean Power Plan has been released, its potential benefits depend on leadership from the states. You can help. Tell your governor today to seize this historic chance!
How much will the Clean Power Plan cost?
FACT: The benefits of the Clean Power Plan far outweigh the costs.
An in-depth analysis of the final rule by the EPA found that the combined climate and health benefits of the Clean Power Plan will far outweigh the costs and that it will produce billions of dollars in net benefits each year, including $26 billion to $45 billion in 2030. Learn more.
Who’s fighting the Clean Power Plan?
Photo: Christian Mueller/Shutterstock
Major fossil fuel companies and special interest groups have worked for years to block efforts to reduce carbon pollution. They proceed to do so today. Learn more.
Debunking misleading studies on the Clean Power Plan
FACT: Reports backed by the fossil fuel and utility industries artificially inflate the costs of the Clean Power Plan while disregarding the benefits.
In an effort to block progress on reducing carbon emissions, fossil fuel and utility interests are rolling out disinformation campaigns and misleading studies that exaggerate the costs of the Clean Power Plan. UCS sets the record straight on some of the most prominent examples. Learn more.