BY STEPHANIE GROVES
Business Journal Staff Writer
The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan proposes to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, which produce 38 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
The EPA’s plan is a regulatory approach to protect public health, spur innovation, and create jobs under the President’s Climate Action Plan.
According to the EPA, the proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants will provide the framework for new standards reducing 2005 levels by 30 percent by the year 2030. Ultimately, the new standards will strive toprovide greater protection for public health, move the United States toward a cleaner environment and fight climate change while supplying Americans with reliable and affordable power.
“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life. EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source — power plants,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment — our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs.”
According to whitehouse.gov, these standards represent a commonsense proposal that will have huge benefits for all Americans. In fact, for every dollar of investment spurred by this proposal, there is roughly seven dollars worth of health benefits in return.
One example of the net benefits is healthcare related and states the proposal will generate 48 to 84 billion dollars of net benefits in 2030. A big share of those net benefits come from lives saved and quality of life improved, asthma attacks avoided and fewer days of missed school or work. Specific 2030 benefits include up to:
• 150,000 fewer asthma attacks
• 3,700 less cases of bronchitis in children
• 180,000 fewer days of school missed
• 310,000 fewer lost work days
• 6,600 less premature deaths
• 3,300 fewer heart attacks
• 1,700 avoided hospital emergency room visits
Ohio’s power plants produce more carbon dioxide than power plants in all but four other states.
In this action, the EPA is proposing emission guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGU). Specifically, the EPA is proposing state-specific rate-based goals for carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, as well as guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to achieve the state-specific goals.
Columbus Public Health Department’s Section Chief of the Division of Environmental Health Luke Jacobs said he looks forward to the improved health outcomes related to carbon reductions.
“I think it’s clear that climate change and public health have an effect on one another and certainly we feel that reducing carbon emissions will lead to a healthier community,” he said.
The EPA and other proponents estimate tens of thousands of jobs will be created by the proposed standards including machinists to manufacture energy-efficient appliances, construction workers to build efficient homes and buildings or weatherize existing ones, service providers to do energy audits and install efficient technologies, and engineers and programmers to design and improve building energy management systems.
Midwest Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Steve Frenkel said the EPA’s proposal creates opportunities for states to move towards renewable energy and energy efficiency, which are critical to the reduction of carbon pollution.
“Unfortunately, Ohio has become the first state in the nation to roll back its clean-energy standards when the legislature passed a bill — Senate Bill 310 — freezing these standards for two years,” Frenkel added. “This is a bad decision that’s sending Ohio in the wrong direction.”
Lawmakers approved the freeze to study the benefits of the state standards, which supporters say are creating jobs and clean-energy investments in the state.