Clean Power Plan repeal proposed by Trump puppet Pruitt

October 12, 2017

Clean Power Plan

Protesters demonstrate outside coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant in Colorado Springs, in January 2016. [Source: 350Colorado]

This week EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced his plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan. The proposed rule, if implemented, would put an end to the Obama Administration’s successful and cost-effective program to reduce carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants. A plan that is already preventing thousands of deaths and many more childhood asthma attacks while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Implementation of the Clean Power Plan prevents each year:

  • 3,600 premature deaths
  • 1,700 heart attacks
  • 90,000 asthma attacks

Under the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration set targets aimed at compelling utilities to improve the efficiency of their coal plants by converting to natural gas and adding more renewable energy sources like wind and solar to their grids. The goal is to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s electricity sector to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Pruitt’s plan is eliminates those guidelines without replacing them with new guidelines: Review of the Clean Power Plan Proposal

In spite of this and other efforts by the Trump Administration to prop up fossil fuel sector and discourage investment in renewable energy, the U.S. power sector is already finding ways to slash greenhouse gas emissions by switching to clean energy resources.

According to researchers the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF):

  • Wind and solar comprised more than 60 percent (roughly 16.5 gigawatts) of new utility-scale generating capacity added in 2016.
  • In March 2017, wind and solar exceeded 10 percent of the nation’s electricity generation for the first time in history, while at the same time dependence on coal continues to decline to historic lows.
  • The clean energy sector now employs more than three million Americans, and continues to grow rapidly.

And this trend is catching on worldwide. Last week the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that renewables accounted for almost two-thirds of new capacity installed.

  • Solar additions worldwide grew faster than any other fuel last year, including coal and natural gas.
  • Over the next five years, the IEA projects renewable capacity to grow by over 920 gigawatts, a 43 percent increase by 2022.

In essence, the Clean Power Plan is already working. By the end of 2016, carbon pollution from U.S. power plants had already declined to 25 percent below 2005 levels. That means the power sector is already almost 80 percent of the way to achieving the Clean Power Plan’s 2030 targets.

The Institute for Policy Integrity also issued a new report this month that highlights the economic benefits of the plan. The Falling Cost of Clean Power Plan Compliance cites several market and policy developments including low natural gas prices, declining renewable energy costs, the 2015 renewable energy tax credit extensions, and state programs supporting the adoption of clean energy technologies.

The success of the Clean Power Plan is evident in the actions of dozens of states as well as power companies. In response to the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back regulations, states and cities are cutting carbon emissions and embracing clean energy.

  • Fourteen states and Puerto Rico, accounting for more than 10 percent of U.S. carbon emissions from the power sector, pledged as part of the new U.S. Climate Alliance to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, as well as meet or exceed their Clean Power Plan targets.
  • 381 mayors (to date) representing more than 67 million Americans pledged to honor the Paris Agreement goals and work to meet the 1.5° Celsius global temperature target. Dozens of cities have committed to move to 100 percent clean energy.
  • Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order in July 2017, committing to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2026, consistent with U.S. goals under the Paris Agreement.
  • Nine states comprising the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in August announced a proposal to cut carbon pollution from the power sector an additional 30 percent between 2020 and 2030 — a 65 percent reduction below the original 2009 pollution cap. RGGI states include: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • Virginia regulators are working to establish a “trading-ready” program to slash power plant carbon emissions in response to an executive order Governor Terry McAuliffe signed in May 2017.
  • California, already a global leader on climate progress, passed legislation that requires cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In July 2017, the state secured a 10-year extension to its landmark cap-and-trade program and strengthened tools to improve local air quality.
  • At least 20 states and the District of Columbia have adopted ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, with most aiming for an 80 percent reduction by 2050 below baselines ranging from 1990 to 2006.
  • Dozens more states are requiring energy companies to provide a percentage of renewable energy, as well as setting new energy efficiency standards and goals.

The Clean Power Plan set targets and established guidelines that sent a clear message to the power sector that CO2 emissions are going to be regulated and the power companies had better be prepared to respond. Faced with overwhelming support to address climate change coming from their customers and a market trending toward clean energy resources, the nation’s largest power companies have been forced to embrace this drive toward a clean energy economy.

  • The CEO of American Electric Power (AEP), the country’s largest generator of electricity from coal, has cut carbon pollution by 44 percent since 2005, and has plans to add more than eight gigawatts of wind and solar in the coming years.
  • Duke Energy, the nation’s largest power producer, announced plans to reduce carbon emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
  • DTE Energy Co. announced plans in May 2017, to curb its carbon emissions more than 80 percent by 2050, by closing coal-fired power plants and adding new gas-fired generation and renewables.
  • Xcel Energy committed in June 2017, to achieving a 60 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, relative to 2005 levels. In August, the company announced plans to retire two coal-fired units in Colorado. In addition, Xcel’s new investments in renewable energy, including a proposal to add 3,380 megawatts of wind generation across seven states, will help the company generate 40 percent of its energy from renewables by 2021.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary MidAmerican Energy has announced a goal to provide 100 percent renewable energy, including a $3.6 billion project to add 2,000 megawatts of wind, which will expand wind energy to 85 percent of the company’s sales.
  • Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE, plans to provide 44 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025.

The Trump Administration’s attempt to repeal the Clean Power Plan will not stop the acceleration of climate change or the inevitability of a clean energy economy.

The success of the Clean Power Plan has not come from setting targets, but in the arduous process of coercing states and power companies to agree to a plan that places equal responsibility for reducing emissions. Obstinate, fossil-fuel-addicted western states like Colorado, California, and Texas have been forced to deal with the impacts of climate change — and take action to safeguard public health.

The notion of losing what has been gained in this process seems unthinkable. It’s a fact of life on this earth that the government still has to come up with a way to regulate CO2 emissions. Let’s face it, at 410 ppm as of April, we’re choking on them.

Worst case scenario is Pruitt’s EPA replaces the Clean Power Plan with weak standards that set the bar so low that everybody is already in compliance.

Meanwhile the hope is that, as California and Colorado continue to lead the league in shutting down and/or cutting CO2 emissions from power plants, other states will see the benefits. But without the Clean Power Plan the incentive for other states to begin to address climate change by reducing CO2 emissions and make the switch to a clean energy future will be lost.

Yet there is overwhelming evidence that the clean energy economy is inevitable Even without the targets set by the Clean Power Plan, states and power companies faced with increasing economic pressures and catastrophic climate forces have no other choice than to work together to reduce CO2 emissions in order to save the planet.

Sources:

Climate and clean energy progress continues in spite of Clean Power Plan repeal rumors

The 4 accounting tricks Pruitt used to justify EPA’s Clean Power Plan repeal

Trump’s EPA is making a reckless and damaging decision. Here’s what you need to know

What rolling back the Clean Power Plan means for the US climate fight

How Obama’s Clean Power Plan actually works — a step-by-step guide

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