Clean Power Plan: Obama and EPA set emission targets

Through the Clean Power Plan, the US aims to cut power sector emissions by 32% by 2030
Through the Clean Power Plan, the US aims to cut power sector emissions by 32% by 2030

US President Barack Obama and the national Environmental Protection Agency this week announced the rollout of a Clean Power Plan.

The plan will be used to accelerate developments in moving toward a cleaner and lower-polluting US energy system to combat climate change.

The Clean Power Plan establishes different target emission rates for each state due to regional variations in generation mix and electricity consumption. Overall, however, it is projected to achieve a 32% cut in power sector emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels.

To achieve climate change objectives, the Clean Power Plan sets out a carbon reduction target for each state based on its capacity to achieve reductions using EPA ‘building blocks’.

The blocks comprise making affected fossil fuel power plants more efficient, substituting increased generation from lower-emitting natural gas combined cycle plants for reduced generation from higher emitting affected generating units, and substituting increased generation from new zero-emitting renewable power sources.

Due to the way regional power grids are established, states can choose multi-state approaches to tackling the new EPA targets if they choose, such as emissions trading.

Clean Power Plan – socio-economic benefits

The EPA’s plan is to create “hundreds of thousands” of clean energy jobs. According to Forbes, “one dollar invested in clean energy today creates 3 times as many jobs as a dollar invested in fossil fuels.” It adds that it will spur technology innovation and entrepreneurship and lower household electric bills through smart electricity pricing.

Fred Krupp, president of US advocacy group, the Environmental Defense Fund commented: “The states that join this race first, and run it the fastest, will win both more investment in clean technologies and less air pollution for their communities.

“No single step will fix climate change, but the Clean Power Plan is also a catalyst for more and quicker pollution reductions in the future, as we continue to innovate and grow the economy.”