6 things every American should know about the Clean Power Plan

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

The U.S. will take a big step toward reducing carbon pollution with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

EPA chief outlines benefits of new pollution rules

By EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy



Today, President Obama will unveil the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan — a historic step to cut the carbon pollution driving climate change. Here are six key things every American should know:

1. IT SLASHES THE CARBON POLLUTION FUELING CLIMATE CHANGE.

Carbon pollution from power plants is our nation’s biggest driver of climate change—and it threatens what matters most – the health of our kids, the safety of our neighborhoods, and the ability of Americans to earn a living. The Clean Power Plan sets common sense, achievable state-by-state goals to cut carbon pollution from power plants across the country. Building on proven local and state efforts, the Plan puts our nation on track to cut carbon pollution from the power sector 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, all while keeping energy reliable and affordable.

2. IT PROTECTS FAMILIES’ HEALTH

Cuts to smog and soot that come along with reducing carbon pollution will bring major health benefits for American families. In 2030, this will mean up to 3,600 fewer premature deaths; 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children; 1,700 fewer hospital admissions; and avoiding 300,000 missed days of school and work. The Clean Power Plan is a historic step forward to give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve.

3. IT PUTS STATES IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT

The Clean Power Plan sets uniform carbon pollution standards for power plants across the country—but sets individual state goals based on states’ current energy mix and where they have opportunities to cut pollution. States then customize plans to meet their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses and utilities. States can run their more efficient plants more often, switch to cleaner fuels, use more renewable energy, and take advantage of emissions trading and energy efficiency options.

Because states requested it, EPA is also proposing a model rule states can adopt right away–one that’s cost-effective, guarantees they meet EPA’s requirements, and will let their power plants use interstate trading right away. But states don’t have to use our plan—they can cut carbon pollution in whatever way makes the most sense for them.

The uniform national rates in the Clean Power Plan are reasonable and achievable, because no plant has to meet them alone or all at once. Instead, they have to meet them as part of the grid and over time. In short, the Clean Power Plan puts states in the driver’s seat.

4. IT’S BUILT ON INPUT FROM MILLIONS OF AMERICANS

The Clean Power Plan reflects unprecedented input from the American people, including 4.3 million comments on the draft plan and input from hundreds of meetings with states, utilities, communities, and others. When folks raised questions about equity and fairness, we listened. That’s why EPA is setting uniform standards to make sure similar plants are treated the same across the country. 

When states and utilities expressed concern about how fast states would need to cut emissions under the draft Plan, we listened. That’s why the Clean Power Plan extends the timeframe for mandatory emissions reductions to begin by two years, until 2022, so utilities will have time to make the upgrades and investments they need to.

But to encourage states to stay ahead of the curve and not delay planned investments, or delay starting programs that need time to pay off, we’re creating a Clean Energy Incentive Program to help states transition to clean energy faster. 

It’s a voluntary matching fund program states can use to encourage early investment in wind and solar power projects, as well as energy efficiency projects in low-income communities. Thanks to the valuable input we heard from the public, the final rule is even more fair and more flexible, while cutting more pollution.

5. IT WILL SAVE US BILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR

With the Clean Power Plan, America is leading by example — showing the world that climate action is an incredible economic opportunity. By 2030, the net public health and climate-related benefits from the Clean Power Plan are estimated to be worth $45 billion every year. And, by design, the Clean Power Plan is projected to cut the average American’s monthly electricity bill by 7 percent in 2030. We’ll get these savings by cutting energy waste and beefing up energy efficiency across the board—steps that make sense for our health, our future, and our wallets.

6. IT PUTS THE U.S. IN A POSITION TO LEAD ON CLIMATE ACTION



Today, the U.S. is generating three times more wind energy and 20 times more solar power than when President Obama took office. And the solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.

For the first time in nearly three decades, we’re importing less foreign oil than we’re producing domestically—and using less overall. 

Our country’s clean energy transition is happening faster than anyone anticipated—even as of last year when we proposed this rule. The accelerating trend toward clean power, and the growing success of energy efficiency efforts, mean carbon emissions are already going down, and the pace is picking up.

The Clean Power Plan will secure and accelerate these trends, building momentum for a cleaner energy future.
Climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. With the Clean Power Plan, we’re putting America in a position to lead. Since the Plan was proposed last year, the U.S., China and Brazil – three of the world’s largest economies – have announced commitments to significantly reduce carbon pollution. We’re confident other nations will come to the table ready to reach an international climate agreement in Paris later this year.

Global warming could unravel UK’s peatland ecosystems

Vast areas of peatlands in the UK are at risk from climate change. Photo via the IUCN.

Vast areas of peatlands in the UK are at risk from climate change. Photo via the IUCN.

More research showing the cascading ecosystem impacts of climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — Plovers, grouse and other bird species will suffer as global warming changes the hydrology of the UK’s far-reaching blanket bogs, scientists warned after developing a model that shows how climate change will play out in those wetland ecosystems.

The University of York researchers also warmed that the changes could also put drinking water supplies at risk. Warmer temperatures will lead to peat decomposition and altered rainfall patterns, including summer droughts, which could drastically affecting the blanket bog hydrology.

Continue reading

Climate: Study assesses impacts of warmer water, ocean acidification on Antarctic fish

Reserarchers see changes in embryo development

sdfg Report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876 Günther, Albert C. L. G. (Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf), 1830-1914

A drawing of an Antarctic dragonfish from a report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-1876.  Günther, Albert C. L. G. (Albert Carl Ludwig Gotthilf).

Staff Report

FRISCO — In another clue as to how warmer and more acidic waters will affect ocean life, scientists with the University of California Davis and San Francisco State University have found that the combination speeds up the development of dragonfish larvae.

The researchers studied the fish in part because their embryos are slow to form, which could make them more susceptible to changed conditions. The findings suggest that higher levels of CO2 and warmer waters have a big impact on the survival and development of the Antarctic dragonfish. The research article was published in the journal Conservation Physiology. Continue reading

Study: Aquifers beneath deserts may be huge CO2 sinks

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Great Sand Dunes National Park. @bberwyn photo.

Research tracks path of carbon dioxide via agriculture to underground storage

Staff Report

FRISCO — Vast aquifers beneath the world’s deserts may be significant carbon sinks, scientists with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research said.

In a new study, the UCAR researchers estimated that those aquifers may store more carbon than all the plants on land.

About 40 percent of the carbon dioxide produced by people stays in the atmosphere and heats the planet. About 30 percent is taken up by oceans, where it is rapidly acidifying the water to the detriment of shellfish and other marine species.

The other 30 percent is partially absorbed by land plants, but when scientists ran CO2 models, it didn’t add up, so they started searching for additional carbon sinks. Continue reading

NOAA steps up efforts to track West Coast toxic algae

A nice haul of blue crabs.

Toxin-producing algae is threatening West Coast fisheries.

Grant funding to help pinpoint cause of outbreak

Staff Report

FRISCO — After sending extra scientists to help track the spread of toxin-producing algae along the West Coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this month said it will help fund more monitoring and research. The agency is committing $88,000 in grant and event response funding for Washington state.

According to NOAA, the money will go to supporting researchers and state and tribal managers in collecting and analyzing additional samples to test for abundance and concentrations of toxins. The information, along with analysis of ocean and weather conditions, will help identify factors contributing to the outbreak and its severity. Continue reading

EU wind power growing by leaps and bounds

Global capacity grew to 370 gigawatts in 2014

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Got wind?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Europe is now generating about 8 percent of its total energy usage from wind power, according to an annual report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

If that doesn’t sound like a lot, here’s another way to look at it: Windpower generated enough electricity to cover the combined annual consumption of Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Ireland. Thanks to the ever-decreasing costs of building new windpower facilities, the EU could be producing at least 12 percent of its annual power needs with turbines by 2020.

The report confirms that wind power has been the most widely deployed form of renewable energy in the past two decades, with the global cumulative capacity growing to 370 gigawatts in 2014. Last year represented an annual record with 52.8 GW of wind turbines capacity installed worldwide, a 48% percent increase compared to 2013 and 17 percent over the 2012 record of 45.2GW. Continue reading

Watchdogs say voluntary methane cuts aren’t enough

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‘To fight global warming, we need real methane rules …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A slew of recent studies showing how heat-trapping methane emissions have been consistently underestimated apparently didn’t have a big impact on the EPA, which has proposed a voluntary program to try and cut atmospheric methane buildup, with some mandatory regulations still in the works.

The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program (“Methane Challenge”) (PDF) (18 pp, 512K, About PDF) would provide a new mechanism enabling oil and gas companies cto track ambitious commitments to reduce methane emissions. According to the EPA, the program is based on extensive stakeholder outreach and reflects a revision of EPA’s previously proposed Gas STAR Gold framework. Continue reading

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