Climate and energy experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council crafted a proposal that will help the country create jobs, grow the economy and curb climate change by going after the country's largest source of climate-changing pollution: emissions from hundreds of existing power plants.
NRDC's proposal shows how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the states, can set new carbon pollution standards under existing authority in the Clean Air Act that will cut existing power plant emissions 26 percent by 2020 (relative to peak emissions in 2005).
The approach includes a provision that will drive investment in cost-effective energy efficiency, substantially lowering the cost of compliance, lowering electricity bills, and creating thousands of jobs across the country.
In the U.S., electric power plants emit about 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, or roughly 40 percent of the nation's total emissions. The EPA has taken important first steps by setting standards that will cut the carbon pollution from automobiles and trucks nearly in half by 2025 and by proposing standards to limit the carbon pollution from new power plants. But the EPA has yet to tackle the carbon pollution from hundreds of existing fossil-fueled power plants in the U.S.
NRDC has crafted an effective and flexible approach to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants that:
· Uses the legal authority under the Clean Air Act.
· Recognizes differences in the starting points among states.
· Charts a path to affordable and effective emissions reductions by tapping into the ingenuity of the states.
· Provides multiple compliance options, including cleaning up existing power plants, shifting power generation to plants with lower emissions or none at all, and improving the efficiency of electricity use.
The plan would cut carbon pollution from America's power plants by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 34 percent by 2025. The price tag: about $4 billion in 2020. But the benefits — in saved lives, reduced illnesses, and climate change avoided — would be $26 to 60 billion, 6 to 15 times greater than the costs. For Americans' health and welfare, for the nation's economy, and for the health of the planet, we can't afford not to curb the carbon pollution from existing power plants.