Tuesday, June 3, 2014

EPA seeks 30% cut in power plant carbon emissions by 2030

Wendy Koch in USA Today: Taking a historic step to fight climate change, the Obama administration proposed a plan Monday that aims to slash carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants 30% by 2030 and could accelerate the nation's shift away from coal.

The Environmental Protection Agency plan, which is President Obama's largest climate effort so far, could help the United States prod other countries like China to pledge similar emissions cuts as part of a new international treaty that's slate for negotiation next year in Paris.

The controversial 645-page plan, expected to trigger legal challenges, sets different reduction targets for each state and gives them flexibility in how to achieve them. Yet it aims for a 30% national reduction of heat-trapping CO² emissions, from 2005 levels, by 2030 -- an amount that the EPA says is equal to annual emissions from powering more than half of U.S. homes.

... Some states that rely heavily on coal-fired power plants will have lower emission targets by 2030 than others that do not. For example, West Virginia must cut 19%,compared to its 2012 emissions, while Ohio must cut 28%, Kentucky 18%
and Wyoming, 19%. In contrast, New York has a 44% target although it can get credit for steps it's already taken to lower emissions.

Thwarted by Congress' inability to pass a bill to lower carbon emissions, Obama is pushing his own approach. Last June, he asked the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to limit power plant emissions, which account for the largest share — nearly 40% — of total U.S. emissions. Coal-fired facilities could be hardest hit, because they emit more carbon than other power plants.

The rule will not take effect for at least two more years. Obama has asked the EPA to finalize it in June 2015 and initially wanted each state to submit its plan by June 2016. The EPA proposal gives states until 2017 or, if they make joint efforts with other states, 2018....

The coal-fired Avon Lake power plant on Lake Erie, shot by Ben Stephenson, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons 2.0 license 

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