EPA defends Clean Power Plan

April 8, 2015

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced their ambitious Clean Power Plan they were met with chorus of criticism.

The Clean Power Plan, a series of standards developed under the EPA's Clean Air Act, intends to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) such as carbon dioxide from power plants across the nation. The draft Clean Power Plan was released in June 2014 and established state-by-state emission rate reduction targets. It offered a framework under which states could work to meet those targets. The plan, if successful, will reduce national electricity sector emissions of GHG by an estimated 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Oil and coal groups, certain utilities and conservative lawmakers in statehouses and on Capitol Hill have made it clear that they oppose what they call the EPA's "vast overreach." They say the plan will force older and more heavily polluting coal and oil plants out of the industry, leading to increased electricity costs and decreased electrical grid reliability. Virginia estimates a 25 percent increase in electricity rates and the loss of 38,000 jobs.

"EPA's [Clean Power Plan] will cost Americans more … out of their own pocket to use less energy," Laura Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, posted on Twitter.

Supporters of the Clean Power Plan are skeptical of criticisms that suggest the price of electricity will increase, citing studies which found that states that generate a greater share of energy from renewable sources, like wind and solar power, have experienced lower electricity prices compared to those that rely heavily on fossil fuels.

Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, also said that the Clean Power Plan would boost state economies by reducing health costs for people living near power plants, and by increasing investment in clean energy facilities. "Under this administration we're seeing basically solar move tenfold, and we've seen wind move threefold," McCarthy told U.S. News & World Report . "There's more job growth."

Environmental consultants can help companies prepare for upcoming federal regulations to ensure compliance if and when they are passed.