Clean Power Plan a noble idea, its implementation anything but guaranteed

As the name implies, the Clean Power Plan has to do with appreciably reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the energy sector and from power plants in particular. It looks as though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be in court defending the plan’s legality. Understand this: regardless of whichever way the court rules, over time there will, invariably, be greater reliance on renewable sources of electricity generation, like solar and wind.

Clean Power Plan nitty gritty

By now you’ve probably heard at least something about CPP. Well, here is more about the plan itself.

“President Obama announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan today, which will cut U.S. carbon pollution from the power sector by 870 million tons, or 32 percent below 2005 levels, in 2030,” the EPA in its Aug. 3, 2015 news release “Obama Administration Takes Historic Action on Climate Change/Clean Power Plan to protect public health, spur clean energy investments and strengthen U.S. leadership,” wrote. “Power plants are the largest drivers of climate change in the United States, accounting for roughly one-third of all carbon pollution emissions, but there were no national limits on carbon pollution until today.

“The Clean Power Plan accelerates the transition to a clean energy future, which is happening even faster than expected—which means carbon and air pollution are already decreasing, improving public health year by year. By 2030, the plan will cut carbon pollution from the power sector by nearly a third and additional reductions will come from pollutants that can create dangerous soot and smog, translating to significant health benefits for the American people. By 2030, emissions of sulfur dioxide from power plants will be 90 percent lower and emissions of nitrogen oxides will be 72 percent lower, compared to 2005 levels. Americans will avoid up to 90,000 asthma attacks and spend up to 300,000 more days in the office or the classroom, instead of sick at home. And up to 3,600 families will be spared the grief of losing a loved one too soon.”

Remember, that is if the plan passes legal muster.

At any rate, “[t]he final rule establishes guidelines for states to follow in developing and implementing their plans, including requirements that vulnerable communities have a seat at the table with other stakeholders,” the EPA in the release added. This plan, to me, though, is more about doing the environment good while at the same time protecting human, animal, and crop and plant health. Those aims, by the way, are noble, for sure.

Furthermore, “EPA is proposing a model rule states can adopt, as well as a federal plan that the EPA will put in place if a state fails to submit an adequate plan. Both the proposed model rule and federal plan focus on emissions trading mechanisms to make sure utilities have broad flexibility to reach their carbon pollution reduction goals. EPA also finalized standards to limit carbon pollution from new, modified and reconstructed power plants.”

A quick review:

As of this moment in time, the energy sector is responsible for producing 30.9 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA, through the CPP, is directing the nation’s coal-fired power plant operators to cut their carbon emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. This is the estimated reduction if all goes according to plan.

Coal-fired power plant

This post has been updated.

Image above: Tennessee Valley Authority

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