Home Energy and Environment EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants

EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants

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Good news from the White House (see statement below). Although I'd argue that these rules should be MUCH stronger than they are, based purely on the science, this might be the best our f'ed-up political system, thanks mostly to Republicans and their fossil fuel funders, can do at this point. Still, it's a start, and an absolutely essential one towards averting catastrophe. Still a lot more to do, though, such as Congress putting a price on carbon, either via a revenue-neutral tax (e.g., “fee and dividend”) or via a Republican-style, market-based “cap-and-trade” system. So, Congress…hello?!? 

With regard to Virginia specifically, I'm very interested how our fine General Assembly, as well as Gov. Terry McAuliffe – who said in 2009 repeatedly that he's a huge fan of clean energy – will comply with these new rules. And then there's the Evil Empire, of course, otherwise known as Dominion Virginia Power. What will they do – lead, cooperate, obstruct, sabotage, other?

 

Clean Power Plan is flexible proposal to ensure a healthier environment, spur innovation and strengthen the economy

 

WASHINGTON – At the direction of President Obama and after an unprecedented outreach effort, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is today releasing the Clean Power Planproposal, which for the first time cuts carbon pollution from existing power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Today’s proposal will protect public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.

 

“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life.  EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama's Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source–power plants,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don't have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment–our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs.” 

 

Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.

 

With the Clean Power Plan, EPA is proposing guidelines that build on trends already underway in states and the power sector to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, making them more efficient and less polluting. This proposal follows through on the common-sense steps laid out in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.

 

By 2030, the steady and responsible steps EPA is taking will:

  • Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year;
  • Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
  • Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits; and
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.  

 

The Clean Power Plan will be implemented through a state-federal partnership under which states identify a path forward using either current or new electricity production and pollution control policies to meet the goals of the proposed program. The proposal provides guidelines for states to develop plans to meet state-specific goals to reduce carbon pollution and gives them the flexibility to design a program that makes the most sense for their unique situation. States can choose the right mix of generation using diverse fuels, energy efficiency and demand-side management to meet the goals and their own needs. It allows them to work alone to develop individual plans or to work together with other states to develop multi-state plans.

 

Also included in today’s proposal is a flexible timeline for states to follow for submitting plans to the agency—with plans due in June 2016, with the option to use a two-step process for submitting final plans if more time is needed. States that have already invested in energy efficiency programs will be able to build on these programs during the compliance period to help make progress toward meeting their goal.

 

Since last summer, EPA has directly engaged with state, tribal, and local governments, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others. The data, information and feedback provided during this effort helped guide the development of the proposal and further confirmed that states have been leading the way for years in saving families and businesses money through improving efficiency, while cleaning up pollution from power plants. To date, 47 states have utilities that run demand-side energy efficiency programs, 38 have renewable portfolio standards or goals, and 10 have market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs. Together, the agency believes that these programs represent a proven, common-sense approach to cutting carbon pollution—one in which electricity is generated and used as efficiently as possible and which promotes a greater reliance on lower-carbon power sources.

 

Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the second phase of the agency’s outreach efforts. EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 120 days after publication in the Federal Register and will hold four public hearings on the proposed Clean Power Plan during the week of July 28 in the following cities: Denver, Atlanta, Washington, DC and Pittsburgh.  Based on this input, EPA will finalize standards next June following the schedule laid out in the June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.

 

In 2009, EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans' health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. Taking steady, responsible steps to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants will protect children’s health and will move our nation toward a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations, while supplying the reliable, affordable power needed for economic growth.

 

Fact sheets and details about the proposed rule available at:  

http://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan

More information on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: http://www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change

Video on today’s announcement from Administrator Gina McCarthy: http://www.epa.gov/ 

  • with yet more lies and looniness.

    President Obama just stepped up his War on Coal.

    The President is sidestepping Congress with a 645-page EPA rule that will destroy jobs and devastate our already struggling Southwest Virginia economy.

    Where is Mark Warner on this?

    If he got his way, Senator Warner would have enacted the Cap-and-Trade carbon tax bill!

    Here’s a Fact Check on Cooch’s Big Lies.

    1. President Obama is actually following the laws Congress has passed (e.g., setting up the EPA and giving it the powers it has), as well as Supreme Court rulings saying that the EPA not only CAN regulated CO2 emissions but HAS TO regulate CO2 emissions.

    2. There’s no “war on coal” per se, but instead an absolutely essential effort to slash carbon emissions. Given that coal is the dirtiest of the dirty, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel (not to mention infinitely more polluting than carbon-free wind and solar power), that’s just the “math” – we have to slash coal consumption, or capture its carbon emissions, if we want to stave off runaway global warming. Note that Ken Cuccinelli has no alternative, other than literally denying the massive scientific evidence, which is just as strong as anything else in science.

    3. As for Mark Warner, sadly he was one of the reasons why Congress didn’t pass the Waxman-Markey, comprehensive energy and climate bill (containing a “cap-and-trade” plan modeled after conservative think tanks and decades of Republican, free-market ideas by the way) in 2009-2010. The result of NOT passing that bill, which was loaded up with all kinds of allowances, credits, and favors to the fossil fuel industry, is the EPA taking action under its authority granted by Congress and confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. What about this Ken Cuccinelli doesn’t understand is beyond me, except that he simply doesn’t WANT to understand it.

    4. If Cuccinelli believed in capitalism and the market economy, he should strongly support putting a price on carbon – a classic “Pigouvian” externality that is not being captured by the market (e.g, “market failure”), and that needs to be corrected by government intervention to help create a more efficient market outcome.  Apparently, Cooch doesn’t understand – or refuses to understand – this basic concept from Econ 101.

  • KAINE STATEMENT ON EPA ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING EXISTING POWER PLANTS

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement today in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule on existing power plants:

    “Today the EPA proposed standards for carbon emissions for existing power plants.  Reducing this carbon pollution is in our national interest, but we have an obligation to do it in a way that makes economic sense.    

    “I recently wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to request that the usual 60-day comment period be doubled to 120 days to allow maximum opportunity for citizens and stakeholders to analyze the rule and share concerns and ideas.  I am gratified that EPA has agreed to this request, and I look forward to dialogue with Virginia families and businesses about the proposal.

    “Recent alarming climate trends, including the rise in sea levels in Hampton Roads, demonstrate that we must reduce carbon pollution in energy production.  That’s why I support research investments in cleaner coal technologies, a groundbreaking plan to develop wind energy off the Virginia coast, safer development of natural gas resources and major steps to expand energy conservation and efficiency. These will be some of the innovative options that could count as emissions reductions under the EPA plan.

    “I’ve seen how smart environmental rules helped us clean up the James River in my hometown in ways that improved our economy and quality of life.  We don’t have to choose between a clean environment and economic growth.  We just have to make sure that we adopt balanced rules that advance environmental goals by spurring economic innovation.”

  • Great speech!

    06/02/2014

    About a month ago, I took a trip to the Cleveland Clinic. I met a lot of great people, but one stood out-even if he needed to stand on a chair to do it. Parker Frey is 10 years old. He’s struggled with severe asthma all his life. His mom said despite his challenges, Parker’s a tough, active kid-and a stellar hockey player.

    But sometimes, she says, the air is too dangerous for him to play outside. In the United States of America, no parent should ever have that worry.

    That’s why EPA exists. Our job, directed by our laws, reaffirmed by our courts, is to protect public health and the environment. Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks not just to our health, but to our communities, our economy, and our way of life. That’s why EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

    I want to thank Janet McCabe, our Acting Assistant Administrator at the Office of Air and Radiation, and the entire EPA team who worked so hard to deliver this proposal. They should be very proud of their work; I know I am.

    Today, EPA is proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut carbon pollution from our power sector, by using cleaner energy sources, and cutting energy waste.

    Although we limit pollutants like mercury, sulfur, and arsenic, currently, there are no limits on carbon pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source. For the sake of our families’ health and our kids’ future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate. When we do, we’ll turn climate risk into business opportunity, we’ll spur innovation and investment, and we’ll build a world-leading clean energy economy.

    The science is clear. The risks are clear. And the high costs of climate inaction keep piling up.

    Rising temperatures bring more smog, more asthma, and longer allergy seasons. If your kid doesn’t use an inhaler, consider yourself a lucky parent, because 1 in 10 children in the U.S. suffers from asthma. Carbon pollution from power plants comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, putting our families at even more risk.

    Climate inaction is costing us more money, in more places, more often. 2012 was the second most expensive year in U.S. history for natural disasters. Even the largest sectors of our economy buckle under the pressures of a changing climate, and when they give way, so do businesses that support them, and local economics that depend on them.

    As our seas rise, so do insurance premiums, property taxes, and food prices. If we do nothing, in our grandkids’ lifetimes, temperatures could rise 10 degrees and seas could rise 4 feet. The S&P recently said climate change will continue to affect credit risk worldwide.

    This is not just about disappearing polar bears or melting ice caps. This is about protecting our health and our homes. This is about protecting local economies and jobs.

    The time to act is now. That’s why President Obama laid out a Climate Action Plan-to cut carbon pollution, build a more resilient nation, and lead the world in our global climate fight.

    Today’s proposed Clean Power Plan is a critical step forward. Before we put pen to paper, we asked for your advice. Our plan was built on that advice-from states, cities, businesses, utilities, and thousands of people. Today kicks off our second phase of crucial engagement.

    Shaped by public input, present trends, proven technologies, and common sense, our Plan aims to cut energy waste and leverage cleaner energy sources by doing two things: First, setting achievable, enforceable state goals to cut carbon pollution per megawatt hour of electricity generated. And second, laying out a national framework that gives states the flexibility to chart their own, customized path to meet their goals.

    All told, in 2030 when states meet their goals, our proposal will result in 30 percent less carbon pollution from the power sector across the U.S. when compared with 2005 levels. That’s like cancelling out annual carbon pollution from two thirds of all cars and trucks in America. And if you add up what we’ll avoid between now and 2030-it’s more than double the carbon pollution from every power plant in America in 2012.

    As a bonus, in 2030 we’ll cut pollution that causes smog and soot 25 percent more than if we didn’t have this plan in place. The first year that these standards go into effect, we’ll avoid up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks-and those numbers go up from there.

    That means lower medical bills and fewer trips to the emergency room, especially for those most vulnerable like our children, our elderly, and our infirmed. This is about environmental justice, too, because lower income families, and communities of color are hardest hit.

    Now let me get into the details of our proposal.

    This plan is all about flexibility. That’s what makes it ambitious, but achievable. That’s how we can keep our energy affordable and reliable. The glue that holds this plan together, and the key to making it work, is that each state’s goal is tailored to its own circumstances, and states have the flexibility to reach their goal in whatever way works best for them.

    First, to craft state goals, we looked at where states are today, and we followed where they’re going. Each state is different, so each goal, and each path, can be different.

    Second, the goals spring from smart and sensible opportunities that states and businesses are taking advantage of right now. From plant to plug.

    Let me tell you about the kinds of opportunities I’m talking about:

    We know that coal and natural gas play a significant role in a diverse national energy mix. This Plan does not change that-it recognizes the opportunity to modernize aging plants, increase efficiency, and lower pollution. That’s part of an all-of-the-above strategy that paves a more certain path for conventional fuels in a carbon constrained world.

    States also have the opportunity to shift their reliance to more efficient, less polluting plants. Or, instead of low carbon sources, there’s always the opportunity to shift to “no” carbon sources like nuclear, wind, and solar. Since 2009, wind energy in America has tripled and solar has grown ten-fold. Our nuclear fleet continues to supply zero carbon baseload power. Homegrown clean energy is posting record revenues and creating jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

    Those are all opportunities at plants, but what about at the plug? Existing technologies can squeeze the most out of every electron, helping us use electricity more efficiently in our homes and businesses. More efficiency means we need less electricity to cool our refrigerators or charge our phones. For the fuel we burn, let’s get the most bang for our buck.

    All of these options are not new ideas. They’re based on proven technologies, proven approaches, and are part of the ongoing story of energy progress in America. Our plan doesn’t prescribe-it propels that progress already underway.

    And like I said, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. States can pick from a portfolio of options to meet regional, state, and community needs-from ones I mentioned, or the many more I didn’t, and in any combination. It’s up to states to mix and match to get to their goal.

    If states don’t want to go it alone, they can join up with a multi-state market based program, or make new ones. More players mean more flexibility and lower costs. States have flexibility not just in means and method, but in timeline, too. Under our proposal, states have to design plans now, and start reducing so they’re on a trajectory to meet their final goals in 2030. That kind of flexibility means a smooth transition to cleaner power that doesn’t leave investments behind.

    The flexibility of our Clean Power Plan affords states the choices that lead them to a healthier future: Choices that level the playing field, and keep options on the table, not off. Choices that reflect where we are today, and look to seize opportunities for tomorrow. Choices that are focused on building up, not shutting down, so we can raise the common denominator for a cleaner, low carbon economy that’ll fuel growth for decades to come.

    What’s special about the flexibility of our plan is that it doesn’t just give states more options-it gives entrepreneurs and investors more options, too. It’ll deliver the certainty that will unleash market forces that drive even more innovation and investment, and spur even cleaner power and all sorts of new low-carbon technologies. Our plan pulls private investment off the shelves and into our clean energy revolution, and sends it in every direction, not just one or two. The opportunities are tremendous.

    The good news is states, cities, and businesses have already blazed the trail. Our clean energy revolution is unfolding in front of us. Just in the past few weeks, I went to Salt Lake City, where the mayor and utilities are teaming up on efficiency. I went to St. Paul, where a science center is recycling energy waste, saving money and teaching kids what we adults are just learning. I’ve seen fortune 500 companies revamp strategies to lower business risk by meeting the demands of a carbon constrained future.

    I want to give a shout out to all the local officials, rural co-ops, public power operators, and investor owned utilities leading on climate change: It’s clear that you act not just because it’s reasonable, but because it’s the right thing to do for the people you serve. Governors and mayors of all stripes are leaning into climate action. They see it not as a partisan obstacle, but as a powerful opportunity. And we know that success breeds success. Those of us who’ve worked in state and local government have seen healthy competition push states to share ideas and expertise. That’s when everybody wins.

    EPA has had a longstanding partnership with states to protect public health. We set goals, and states are in the driver’s seat to meet them. So releasing the Clean Power Plan shifts the conversation to states. If you’re a teacher, scientist, mechanic, business person-or just someone with a good idea-share your thoughts with your state leaders. Help them see how they can build a plan that will better our future.

    I know people are wondering: can we cut pollution while keeping our energy affordable and reliable? We can, and we will. Critics claim your energy bills will skyrocket. They’re wrong. Any small, short-term change in electricity prices would be within normal fluctuations the power sector already deals with. And any small price increase-think about the price of a gallon of milk a month-is dwarfed by huge benefits. This is an investment in better health and a better future for our kids.

    In 2030, the Clean Power Plan will deliver climate and health benefits of up to $90 billion dollars. And for soot and smog reductions alone, that means for every dollar we invest in the plan, families will see $7 dollars in health benefits. And if states are smart about taking advantage of efficiency opportunities, and I know they are, when the effects of this plan are in place in 2030, average electricity bills will be 8 percent cheaper.

    This plan is a down payment on a more efficient, 21st century power system that cuts energy waste, cuts pollution, and cuts costs. It’s a proven path-a lot of states have been doing it for years. Think about it like this: we set historic fuel efficiency standards that will double the distance our cars go on a gallon of gas. That means you fill up less often, and save more money. Efficiency is a win for our planet and our pocketbooks. And given the astronomical price we pay for climate inaction, the most costly thing we can do; is to do nothing.

    The critics are wrong about reliability, too. For decades, power plants have met pollution limits without risking reliability. If anything, what threatens reliability and causes blackouts is devastating extreme weather fueled by climate change. I’m tired of people pointing to the Polar Vortex as a reason not to act on climate. It’s exactly the opposite. Climate change heightens risks from extreme cold that freezes power grids, superstorms that drown power plants, and heat waves that stress power supplies. And it turns out, efficiency upgrades that slow climate change actually help cities insulate against blackouts.

    Despite all that, there are still special interest skeptics who will cry the sky is falling. Who will deliberately ignore the risks, overestimate the costs, and undervalue the benefits. But the facts are clear. For over four decades, EPA has cut air pollution by 70 percent and the economy has more than tripled. All while providing the power we need to keep America strong. Climate action doesn’t dull America’s competitive edge-it sharpens it. It spurs ingenuity, innovation, and investment. In 2011, we exported almost 33 percent more cars than we did in 2009-a clear sign of a competitive industry. And our fuel efficiency standards strengthen that.

    Companies like Best Buy are investing in low-carbon operations. Bank of America pays its employees to cut carbon pollution, because investors see climate risk as business opportunity. Any business will tell you eliminating waste means more money for other things, like hiring employees. Corporate climate action is not bells and whistles-it’s all hands on deck.

    And even without national standards, the energy sector sees the writing on the wall. Businesses like Spectra Energy are investing billions in clean energy. And utilities like Exelon and Entergy are weaving climate considerations into business plans. All this means more jobs, not less. We’ll need thousands of American workers, in construction, transmission, and more, to make cleaner power a reality.

    The bottom line is: we have never-nor will we ever-have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.

    There’s a reason empty allegations from critics sound like a broken record. It’s the same tired play from the same special-interest playbook they’ve used for decades. In the 60’s, when smog choked our cities, critics cried wolf and said EPA action would put the brakes on auto production. They were wrong. Instead, our air got cleaner, our kids got healthier-and we sold more cars. In the 90’s, critics cried wolf and said fighting acid rain would make electricity bills go up and our lights go out. They said industry would, quote, “die a quiet death.” Wrong again. Industry is alive and well, our lights are still on, and we’ve dramatically reduced acid rain. Time after time, when science pointed to health risks, special interests cried wolf to protect their own agenda. And time after time, we followed the science, protected the American people, and the doomsday predictions never came true.

    Now, climate change is calling our number. And right on cue, those same critics once will flaunt manufactured facts and scare-tactics, standing in our way of our right to breathe clean air, to keep our communities safe, and to meet our moral duty as stewards of our natural resources. Their claims that the science-driven action that’s protected families for generations would somehow harm us flies in the face of history, and shows a lack of faith in American ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

    I don’t accept that premise. We can lead this fight. We can innovate our way to a better future. It’s what America does best. Yes, our climate crisis is a global problem that demands a global solution, and there’s no Hail Mary play we can call to reverse its effects. But we can act today to advance the ball and limit the dangers of punting the problem to our kids.

    It’s no accident that our proposal is a key piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan-and key to American leadership in our global climate fight. Although there’s still much work to do to get carbon pollution down to safe levels, I’m hopeful when I see the progress we’ve made. I’m hopeful because I see the pattern of perseverance that defines America.

    From the light bulb to the locomotive; from photovoltaic cells to cellphones, America has always turned small steps into giant leaps. We’ve cured diseases, we’ve explored the stars, we’ve connected corners of the globe with the click of a mouse, because when critics say it can’t be done, we say-watch us. That’s what America is made of. We don’t settle. We lead. And that’s how we’ll confront our climate crisis.

    When it comes to our Plan, we may not agree on details of how we do it, but we agree on why we do it. When our kids ask us if we did everything we could to leave them a safer, cleaner world, we want to say, yes, we did. When we think of our children-kids like Parker from Cleveland, Ohio-it’s easy to see why we’re compelled to act.

    As governors and mayors, as CEOs and school teachers, and most of all, as parents, we have a moral obligation to ensure the world we leave behind is as safe, healthy, and vibrant as the one we inherited. Our Clean Power Plan is a huge step toward delivering on that promise.

    Thank you very much.

  • Washington D.C. — Representative Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee and senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, today applauded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030.

    “The EPA’s proposal today is a game changing decision that reflects President Obama’s commitment to act on climate change.  This is a problem that won’t go away unless we take decisive action to reduce the carbon emissions that are driving climate change,” said Rep. Moran.  “But this isn’t just about the threat it poses in the future.   This is a present day threat to our national security, our economy, our health and well-being.  Climate change is already affecting communities across the country.  We can’t continue ignoring its effects, whether it’s sick children or dangerous extreme weather events.”

    “Gina McCarthy’s proposal gives states incredible flexibility to reduce carbon emissions.  I hope that communities that have borne the brunt of harmful emissions from unregulated and outdated coal-fired power plants will be the primary beneficiaries, the way Alexandrians benefitted from the closure of the Potomac River Generating Station, once the region’s single largest source of air pollution. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for nearly 40 percent of the carbon pollution in the U.S.  It’s time for the utility industry adapt for our future,” Moran concluded.

    The Clean Power Plan relies heavily on the existing state-federal Clean Air Act partnership which enables states to develop their own path to reduce carbon emissions.  States will have the flexibility to cut emissions at current sources, reduce demand through efficiency improvements and encourage production of cleaner sources of electricity or some combination of all three based on what makes the most sense for each state’s unique situation. States can even work collectively with other states to develop multi-state carbon reduction plans.

  • House “Green Dogs” Caucus statement (note: Gerry Connolly is a co-chair of the caucus. The other two co-chairs are Steve Israel and Paul Tonko)

    SEEC Statement on Carbon Pollution Standard for Existing Sources

    Washington, D.C.-Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a draft proposal to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants.  Carbon emissions from human activities, such as power generation, are the principal driver of climate change.  Power plants are responsible for 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions, representing our nation’s single largest source of carbon pollution.  The standards as proposed would reduce carbon pollution 25 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030, an equivalent of about 730 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, compared to 2005.

    In response to the announcement, the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) issued the following statement:

    “SEEC welcomes EPA’s first-ever proposal to cut carbon pollution from power plants.  Climate change is already altering the world around us.  All across our country people are witnessing its impacts, which will only worsen the longer we allow this problem to persist unmitigated.  We must work to address carbon pollution, the principal contributor to climate change.

    “With today’s announcement, we are taking an important step in fulfilling our promise of a healthier and brighter tomorrow for our children.  We already have limits on toxins like lead, mercury, and arsenic.  Carbon pollution should be no different and as of today it no longer is.  In the first year alone, these safeguards will help prevent 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks.   It’s a common-sense effort that builds on activities already underway in a number of states as well as other critical initiatives by the Administration to reign in carbon pollution, such as increasing the fuel efficiency of our vehicles and efficiency of our appliances.  

    “In light of Congressional Republicans’ inability to recognize climate change and act in a responsible manner, we appreciate EPA stepping up and fulfilling its duty to protect generations now and in the future.  SEEC looks forward to working with all stakeholders in addressing climate change and moving America toward a sustainable, 21st century energy economy.”

  • and that “coal is a very dirty form of energy.”

  • SethM

    I am pleased that Obama has done this, not the real fight begins to ensure that the rules go into effect.

  • political.junky.NOVA

    I hope it does not get tied up in the courts.  Sadly it probably will

  • In Virginia, and across the nation, we are already seeing the harms of climate change. From increased health risks from diseases such as asthma to increasingly devastating extreme weather events, numerous scientific reports have shown that a failure to reduce carbon pollution will only increase these and other threats. These impacts are being felt particularly in Norfolk, which has been listed as the second most at risk city behind New Orleans for sea level rise in the United States.

    “We have an obligation to act to reduce the impacts of climate change, and that is why I support the Clean Power Plan announced today. These actions will allow future generations of Americans to enjoy our clean air and our natural resources well into the future.

    “While work remains to ensure that Virginia remains resilient in the face of climate change and its effects, I am confident that the commonsense limits on carbon pollution announced today will spur innovation and ensure that the United States is a world leader in taking action to deal with the realities of climate change.

  • STATEMENT OF U.S. SEN. WARNER

    ~ On Today’s EPA Announcement of Draft Regulations for Existing Power Plants ~

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants:

    “Virginia is at the center of the national debate on climate change, with our coalfields in southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth’s coastal cities beginning to see the impact of sea rise.  These draft regulations on existing source carbon power plant emissions are complicated, consequential and far-reaching, and I am pleased the Administration wisely decided to accept our recommendation to double the comment period from 60 to 120 days.  

    “This is a first step in a very long process, and it is important that Virginians have a full and fair opportunity to express their views on the proposed rule. I will review the EPA proposal and consult with a broad variety of Virginia stakeholders on these issues. I will work to ensure that any final rule provides Virginia with adequate flexibility, enhances innovation and R&D in clean coal, and ensures that we maintain a safe and reliable energy network to power a competitive economy.”      

  • From the White House:

    A CLEANER, MORE EFFICIENT POWER SECTOR IN VIRGINIA

    We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged, and by taking an all-of-the-above approach to develop homegrown energy and steady, responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, we can protect our kids’ health and begin to slow the effects of climate change so we leave a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations.

    We already set limits for arsenic, mercury and lead, but we let power plants release as much carbon pollution as they want. Yet, the effects of climate change are already being felt across the nation. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital. Droughts are becoming more frequent and more severe in the West. And extreme weather, from hurricanes to heat waves, is hitting communities across the country. Now is the time to act. We have already made progress by moving to cleaner sources of energy and improving the energy efficiency of our cars, trucks and buildings. Now, EPA is setting carbon standards for power plants to protect public health and welfare.

    Improving the Health of Virginia Residents

    We know climate change will put vulnerable populations at greater risk – including the elderly, our kids, and people already suffering from burdensome allergies, asthma, and other illnesses. According to the most recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8.7 percent of Virginia’s adult population suffer from asthma. The sooner we act, including by taking responsible steps to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, the more we can do to prevent impacts to this already-vulnerable group.

    In 2012, 25 million metric tons of carbon pollution were emitted from power plants in Virginia – equal to the yearly pollution from over 5 million cars. In addition to reducing a portion of this carbon pollution, EPA’s guidelines will also cut other forms of air pollution like soot and smog. In the first year of the program alone, these reductions will provide important health protections nationally, including preventing 100,000 asthma attacks in children and young adults and avoiding 1,800 – 4,270 premature deaths and up to 2,100 heart attacks. Virginia residents will benefit from a share of these national health protections.

    State Flexibility in Achieving Carbon Pollution Targets

    States will have flexibility to meet EPA’s target using the energy sources that work best for them and by cutting energy waste. To date, more than 35 states already have renewable energy targets, over 25 states have state-wide programs to cut energy waste, and 10 have adopted market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs. EPA’s proposal builds on progress already underway in each state and provides guidelines for states to develop plans to meet their carbon pollution reduction targets. It allows states to work alone to develop plans or to work together with neighboring states to develop multi-state plans, creating thousands of good jobs for Americans who are making our electricity system cleaner and our homes and businesses more energy efficient.

    Cutting Carbon Pollution in Virginia

    Through the President’s leadership, and the initiative of the state of Virginia, local communities, and the private sector, a number of common-sense measures to combat carbon pollution in Virginia are already in place. In fact, between 2008 and 2011, carbon emissions from the power

    sector decreased over 20 percent in Virginia. EPA’s flexible proposed guidelines for power plants will continue driving cost-effective measures to reduce carbon pollution in Virginia, building off of recent progress:

    ·         Increased Deployment of Clean Energy: Since the President took office, we have increased U.S. solar-electricity generation by more than ten-fold and tripled U.S. electricity production from wind power. Since 2009, the Administration has supported tens of thousands of renewable energy projects throughout the country, including 87 in Virginia, generating enough energy to power more than 2,000 homes. Virginia already has a goal to generate 15 percent of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2025.

    In addition, the Administration has supported construction of the first nuclear reactors in three decades as well as research and development for new small modular nuclear reactors; made an historic investment of more than $6 billion in clean coal technologies; and worked to streamline permitting of new hydropower as well as the transmission lines that connect clean power to consumers.

    ·         Improved Energy Efficiency: Using less energy to power our homes and businesses is critical to building a clean and secure energy future. President Obama has made essential investments in research and development to advance energy efficiency, and set new standards to make the things we use every day more efficient. Since October 2009, the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have jointly completed energy upgrades for nearly two million homes across the country, saving many families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone, bringing the state of Virginia closer to reaching its goal of cutting energy waste 10 percent by 2022 relative to 2006 levels.

    Already, local communities are taking initiative. Through the President’s Better Buildings Challenge, the Arlington County and the city of Roanoke both committed to reduce their energy intensity 20 percent by 2020 in a combined 3.1 million square feet of public buildings. To date, Arlington and Roanoke have achieved improved energy performance of 12 percent and 11 percent respectively. The University of Virginia has committed to the same goal in 15 million square feet of university buildings.

    ·         Increased Utilization of Natural Gas: The U.S. produces more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. “In fact, in 2012, total electricity generation from natural gas power plants increased by more than 50% compared to 2008.” In Virginia, the average utilization of natural gas combined cycle power plants has increased by nearly 200 percent, resulting in more than 12 million metric tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions.