President Barack Obama and Environmental Protection Agency Director Gina McCarthy announced EPA's release of the final version of the Clean Power Plan Monday, establishing the first U.S. limits on carbon pollution.
A White House press release stated, "We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that's not polluted or damaged. 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. Extreme weather events - from more severe droughts and wildfires in the West to record heat waves - and sea level rise are hitting communities across the country. In fact, 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the first 15 years of this century and last year was the warmest year ever. The most vulnerable among us - including children, older adults, people with heart or lung disease, and people living in poverty - are most at risk from the impacts of climate change. Taking action now is critical.
"The Clean Power Plan establishes the first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants. We already set limits that protect public health by reducing soot and other toxic emissions, but until now, existing power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States, could release as much carbon pollution as they wanted.
"The final Clean Power Plan sets flexible and achievable standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, 9 percent more ambitious than the proposal."
National Grid U.S. came out and supported the Clean Power Plan, which is aimed at meaningfully reducing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.
"This landmark, comprehensive regulation will enable real progress in significantly reducing greenhouse gases," National Grid U.S. president Dean Seavers said. "The Obama Administration and EPA, under the leadership of Gina McCarthy, have worked tirelessly to craft regulation that promotes the protection of human health and the environment through a host of clean energy options. This new rule supports market-based solutions while giving the states options to flex them to address their specific characteristics."
Seavers said National Grid has long advocated for federal legislation as a comprehensive means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "However, we support EPA's Clean Power Plan in the absence of federal legislation," he said. "National Grid will be actively collaborating with the states and other stakeholders as they develop their implementation plans to ensure the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector and advance America's efficient and clean energy future."
National Grid has a history of supporting efforts to reduced greenhouse gas emissions from its footprint, and has established reduction goals of 45 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, from year 1990 baseline levels. Due in large part to investments in its electricity generation operations, natural gas and electricity distribution networks, National Grid's total emissions in the U.S. have decreased by 65 percent from 1990 to 2013.
Harold P. Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said, "Today, President Obama honored his commitment to act on climate change, a public health emergency. The Clean Power Plan is a tremendous step forward in the United States' fight against carbon pollution and climate change that will also bring immediate health benefits to the American people. EPA estimates that the Clean Power Plan will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 asthma attacks in 2030, as well as prevent 300,000 missed days of work and school.
"Breathing healthy air is essential to life. The evidence is clear that climate change now harms lung health and public safety. Warmer temperatures degrade air quality by making ozone pollution worse than it should be, and create more particle pollution from increased wildfires and drought. Add to that more frequent and intense extreme weather events, such as heat waves and floods, and the spread of some dangerous diseases, and you see why we need the Clean Power Plan.
"Consider those most at risk: infants, children, older adults, people with lung disease, people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, people with low incomes and anyone who works outdoors. They are the ones who must rush to the emergency room when they cannot breathe because of worsened ozone pollution during a heat wave, or when smoke blows into their yard from wildfires across state lines.
"The Clean Power Plan is the first national program to clean up carbon pollution from power plants. Not only will it reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change, but it will also lead to less soot- and smog-forming pollution, resulting in significant health benefits.
"Today's announcement marks a tremendous step forward, but the fight against climate change is far from over. Now, governors and other state leaders must write their compliance plans. The Lung Association urges them to develop plans quickly that protect children and others most at risk in their states."
Lauren Kolojejchick-Kotch, energy and climate program associate at the Center for Rural Affairs, said, "We applaud the administration for taking this step. The Clean Power Plan will provide Nebraska with a significant opportunity to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and protect our communities by stepping up our commitment to renewable energy and greater energy efficiency."
Nebraska ranks seventh highest among the states for per capita energy consumption, while it consistently ranks in the bottom third for its efforts to use energy more efficiently, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.
"Investments in energy efficiency can provide a significant benefit to ratepayers, especially in low-income households and rural communities," Kolojejchick-Kotch said. "And renewable energy keeps money closer to home. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory forecasted that an 80 megawatt wind farm, the size of just one farm in Broken Bow, Nebraska, can generate nearly 400 jobs, $4.8 million in land lease payments, and $6.3 million in new tax revenues for schools and services like local fire and police forces. That spending translates into $50.14 million in local economic benefits."
Heather Leibowitz, executive director of Environment New York, said, "The Clean Power Plan is the single biggest action the U.S. has ever taken on climate, and is great news for New York. Cracking down on coal and gas while ramping up wind, solar and other clean energy sources will protect our families' health today and ensure a safer climate for the future."
The Clean Power Plan sets state-by-state limits on heat-trapping emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants. Under the plan, each state determines how to meet its pollution cap. In New York's case, it is to reduce carbon emissions by 32 million metric tons by 2025.
New York is positioned to meet its limits with increased development of clean energy, for which it has vast potential. Environment New York research shows the state has enough solar potential to power the entire state 11 times over.
Heat waves, extreme flooding, and rising sea levels are just a few of the impacts of climate change New Yorkers have already begun to experience. New York saw a 64 percent increase in storms with extreme precipitation between 1948 and 2011.
More than 397,000 comments from New Yorkers were among the 8 million submitted across the country in favor of the plan.
For more information, visit http://www2.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan.