On August 3rd, 2015, President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan – a historic set of Clean Air Act standards that will finally put an end to the era of unlimited carbon pollution from America’s fossil fuel-fired power plants.
Fossil fuel-fired power plants are the nation’s single largest source of climate-destabilizing pollution, accounting for nearly 40 percent of our emissions of carbon dioxide. Unlike other major air pollutants from the power sector that have been subject to protective standards under the Clean Air Act, carbon pollution from power plants has been subject to no national limits –until now.
In our new white paper, An Early Look at the Clean Power Plan in Six Charts, we summarize the Clean Power Plan, and provide an overview of the major features of these vital standards and explain the broader market and industry trends that will shape the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, including:
- an examination of the nationwide emission reduction targets
- the process by which state targets were developed
- state flexibility in the development of implementation plans
- early action crediting
- reliability mechanisms
- environmental and public health benefits of the standards
As we explain in the white paper, reducing carbon pollution from the power sector will yield a safer and more stable climate for ourselves and for our children.
It will also result in near-term public health benefits in the form of thousands of avoided deaths, hundreds of thousands of avoided childhood asthma attacks, and fewer strokes and heart attacks.
By creating incentives for energy efficiency, the Clean Power Plan also has the potential to reduce energy bills for households by an average of approximately $80 per year when fully implemented – yielding significant economic benefits.
The Clean Power Plan is an important step for America, but it should be seen as setting the floor for ambition, not the ceiling. It is abundantly clear that the power sector is fully capable of achieving – and greatly exceeding — the standards laid out in the Clean Power Plan, and doing so in a highly cost-effective way that maintains a reliable and affordable electric system.
Experience has shown that states that move early and in a rigorous way to reduce emissions will reap the greatest health and economic benefits. States will have tremendous flexibility under the Clean Power Plan to determine how best to win this race, and how to take advantage of their own unique opportunities.
Deploying that flexibility to surpass the carbon pollution limits established in the Clean Power Plan will maximize benefits to ratepayers and power companies, while improving health in local communities.
With the finalization of the Clean Power Plan, states and power companies will now begin the important work of developing state-based solutions. The Clean Air Act requires that this process include extensive public outreach and involvement. It’s important that citizens engage in this process, and tell their state officials, regulators, and power companies that they want to win the race to a low-carbon economy — and that officials should therefore act early and boldly to make progress in reducing carbon pollution.
By leveraging all of the opportunities and tools that the Clean Power Plan offers, we can secure healthier air, a safer climate, and a more resilient and affordable electricity grid. That’s something all Americans can celebrate.
You can read more in our white paper.
This post originally appeared on our EDF Climate 411 blog.