On Monday, President Obama announced a huge step to fight climate change and protect our kids’ health: EPA’s Clean Power Plan. By 2030, the plan will drastically cut carbon pollution from power plants – our nation’s biggest driver of climate change – as well as the other harmful air pollutants that come along with it.
The release of the final Clean Power Plan is a historic step forward for our country, and with its launch, we begin a new chapter as we take action against climate change.
Among the many commenters, states provided critical feedback to help EPA build a final Clean Power Plan that works for everyone. And starting now, states are in the driver’s seat of putting the plan into action.
The Clean Power Plan sets uniform emissions rates for power plants across the country. They’re the same in every state for similar types of fossil fuel plants, ensuring fairness and consistency across the board. Using these rates, EPA’s plan then sets state-specific goals for cutting carbon pollution based on each state’s unique energy mix.
That’s where flexibility and a host of options come in. States can decide how best to achieve pollution reductions from power plants. The Clean Power Plan explains the state options, and EPA has also proposed a Federal Plan and Model Rule that states can adopt as a ready-made, cost-effective path forward. But states don’t have to use the EPA’s approach; they can pursue a range of other approaches. And compliance strategies are wide open, too. Utilities can improve plant efficiency, run cleaner plants more, shift toward cleaner fuels, use renewables, and take advantage of energy efficiency and interstate trading.
So, what’s next? Here are a few important milestones to look for.
2016: States have until September 6, 2016, to build and submit their customized plans for cutting carbon pollution and meeting their goals. They’ll send those plans to EPA for review. If a year isn’t enough time, states can request an extension.
2022: This is the first year that states are required to start meeting interim goals for carbon pollution reduction. But investments and plans underway now can help states get closer to their goals even sooner, and to help them, we’ve created a Clean Energy Incentive Program to help states get a head start on reducing carbon emissions as soon as 2020.
2022 – 2029: Because we know pollution reductions won’t happen overnight, EPA is providing a path to help states make a smooth transition to clean energy future. State pollution reductions can be achieved gradually, over an interim step-down period between 2022 and 2029, before states are required to meet their final goals.
2030: This is the year that states are required to meet their full carbon pollution reduction goals under the Clean Power Plan—and the year we’ll see its full benefits to our health and our pocketbooks. In 2030, when states meet their goals, carbon pollution from the power sector will be 32 percent below 2005 levels. That’s 870 million fewer tons of carbon pollution, with even less over time. And because of reductions to other harmful air pollutants that come packaged with carbon pollution, we’ll avoid thousands of premature deaths and have thousands fewer asthma cases and hospitalizations in 2030 alone. What’s more, 2030 is the year the nation will see up to $45 billion in net benefits from the clean power plan, and the average American family will see up to $85 a year in savings on their utility bills.
The good news is, we don’t have to wait until 2030 to start seeing the Clean Power Plan’s benefits. Communities will start seeing tangible health and cost benefits as states make progress toward cutting carbon pollution and increasing efficiency.
Starting now, state planning will begin in earnest. And we hope you will get engaged. The Clean Power Plan requires states to work with communities and stakeholders to make sure the plans they build reflect your needs. And EPA will be looking to see how states are taking stakeholder input into account.
We urge you to be part of the process, get informed, and get involved. EPA received more than 4.3 million public comments on its initial proposed Plan, and we listened to your concerns. The final Clean Power Plan is stronger, more flexible, and more achievable because of your feedback. Here are some upcoming ways to get involved:
August 20, 2015: Join us for a webinar designed to provide communities with an overview of what is in the Clean Power Plan and how to participate. More details available soon HERE.
Fall 2015: EPA will hold public hearings around the country for the proposed Federal Plan and Model Rules. More details will be posted on www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan soon.
As Administrator McCarthy has said, “climate change is personal.” It affects you no matter who you are or where you come from. That’s why we need you to be involved and have your voice heard.
Learn more about how the Clean Power Plan affects your state HERE.