Last week the Clean Power Plan officially became law and rather than being hailed as one of the greatest climate, environmental, innovation and economic accomplishments in US history, it has been met with a raft of lawsuits from state governors.
The final version of the Clean Power Plan was released on August 3, 2015 and it sets even stricter emissions regulations than the proposal announced last year. The regulation, which aims to cut carbon pollution from power plants, cuts emissions 32 percent by 2030 from levels recorded in 2005. That is 2 percent more than the original draft rule that proposed a 30 percent reduction.
Although larger cuts are mandated by the final plan, this latest version give states even more flexibility to meet its requirements. States must now comply by 2022 instead of 2020 and reductions are to be phased in gradually over 8 years.
Many leading companies are behind the plan including 365 companies and investors that sent a letter of support in August. Those who signed the Ceres letter include General Mills, Mars, Nestle, Staples, Unilever and VF Corporation.
However, there are dissenters including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and predictably, Republicans.
The EPA published its Clean Power Plan in the federal register on October 25, 2015 and this opened the door to legal challenges. Even though Americans, including Republicans support the plan, almost half of US states are challenging the new law. Of the 24 states that are using the courts to try to stop the law, the vast majority (19 of 24) have Republican governors.
It should come as no surprise that coal rich West Virginia is leading the charge. The states and governors involved in lawsuits to kill the Clean Power Plan are:
West Virginia, Earl Ray Tomblin, Democrat
Texas, Gregory Wayne Abbott, Republican
Alabama, Robert Julian Bentley, Republican
Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, Republican
Colorado, John Wright Hickenlooper, Democrat
Florida, Richard Lynn Scott, Republican
Georgia, John Nathan Deal, Republican
Indiana, Michael Richard “Mike” Pence, Republican
Kansas, Samuel Dale “Sam” Brownback, Republican
Kentucky, Steven Lynn “Steve” Beshear, Democrat
Louisiana, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, Republican
Michigan, Richard Dale “Rick” Snyder, Republican
Missouri, Jeremiah Wilson “Jay” Nixon, Democrat
Montana, Stephen Clark “Steve” Bullock, Democrat
Nebraska, John Peter “Pete” Ricketts, Republican
New Jersey, Christopher James “Chris” Christie, Republican
Ohio, John Richard Kasich, Republican
South Carolina, Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley, Republican
South Dakota, Dennis Martin Daugaard, Republican
Utah, Gary Richard Herbert, Republican
Wisconsin, Scott K Walker, Republican
Wyoming, Matthew Hansen “Matt” Mead, Republican
Arizona, Douglas Anthony “Doug” Ducey, Republican
North Carolina, Patrick Lloyd “Pat” McCrory, Republican
The irony is that the clean power plan is not only good for the planet and the health of Americans it is also good for the economy. According to many, and contrary to the spin emanating from its detractors, the plan will lower electric bills. The new law could result in $155 billion in electricity savings between 2020 and 2030. This will help American families save on average $85 a year on power bill.
As reported by EDF, the plan will drive more “investment, incentives and mechanisms that decarbonize our economy and usher in a new generation of industries.” Investments in wind and solar are soaring and as these industries grow they are becoming increasingly price competitive with conventional fuel sources.
According to Morgan Stanley, the financing of utility-scale renewables will ramp up considerably once the Clean Power Plan is implemented. Investments in clean energy are also good investments with solid rates of return.
The new law will also create jobs. One dollar invested today creates three times as many jobs as a dollar invested in fossil fuels.
The best evidence for this assertion comes from California where the passage of carbon pollution law AB 32 in 2012 has seen a flood of investment and caused clean tech jobs to grow ten time faster than any other sector in the last ten years.
The law will also increase innovation. Historically markets respond well to engineering challenges from government. This is a point not lost on President Obama who accused the plan’s detractors of historical ignorance.
“Whenever America has set clear rules and smarter standards for our air, our water, our children’s health, we get the same scary stories about killing jobs and businesses and freedom,” Obama said. “The kinds of criticisms that you’re going to hear are simply excuses for inaction. They’re not even good business sense. They underestimate American business and American ingenuity.”
As sited in onEarth here are three areas where we have seen innovation arise from government engineering challenges: Catalytic converter, scrubbers and fuel efficient cars.
US power plants are now legally responsible to limit carbon pollution for the first time.As explained by the EPA, “The final Clean Power Plan is fair, flexible and designed to strengthen the fast-growing trend toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy.” Despite the lawsuits and criticisms, history will record this as a momentous occasion.
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