Climate pollution is a having a major impact on our economy, public health and environment. Poor air quality is making our children sick. Rising temperatures, prolonged heat waves and severe storms are costing our economy billions in lost production and infrastructure and property damage. In directing the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move forward with the Clean Power Plan, President Obama has demonstrated the leadership needed to finally address one of the root causes of our changing climate.
The proposed rule, issued pursuant to the Clean Air Act, is the centerpiece of administration’s Climate Action Plan. It sets the first national standard for regulating climate pollution from the country’s power sector. It comes on the heels of a previous rule that sets carbon standards for plant to be built in the future. That standard garnered the support of a bi-partisan group of 50 New York State legislators.
The Clean Power Plan aims to cut power plant climate pollution by 30-percent of 2005 levels by the year 2030. Since Fossil-fuel fired power plants are responsible for one-third of the nation’s climate altering greenhouse gas emissions, it is only correct to target them for reduction.These actions will benefit the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations, driving a 25-percent cut in soot and smog causing pollution - key contributors to heart and respiratory diseases. Reducing these pollutants will help avoid 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths,150,000 asthma attacks in children and billions of dollars in health care costs.
By setting state-by-state goals for climate pollution reductions, the EPA is providing the states with the flexibility they need to develop innovative plans designed to spur job growth in the clean energy sector, lower consumer utility costs and improve health outcomes. New York State is uniquely positioned as a leader on this front. The state already has strict power plant carbon pollution standards for yet to be built plants and our participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – and the successful clean energy and energy efficiency programs it has spawned – are being showcased as a national model.
The process for responding to the President’s climate action charge will play out over the next couple of years. New Yorkers have an opportunity to continue to play a strong leadership role by continuing to push the envelope with energy solutions and climate pollutant reduction plans extending beyond the power industry to all sectors of the economy.