Here Are The Details Of The Historic EPA Rule To Cut Carbon Emissions From Power Plants

Coal PlantREUTERS/StringerBurning coal is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s nearly 1,000 existing power plants. Specifically, the new regulation calls for cutting carbon pollution by 30% from 2005 levels by the year 2030.

Under the rule, states will be given a flexible timeline to create a plan for reducing carbon pollution, with plans due by June 2016. The program for reducing emissions will vary by state, depending on their unique situations. For example, states can make improvements at power plants by generating more electricity from clean energy, such as wind or solar, or by increasing energy efficiency.

“States can choose the right mix of generation using diverse fuels, energy efficiency and demand-side management to meet the goals and their own needs,” the EPA said.

Each state will also have different targets. “States that burn a lot of coal would begin their reductions from a higher emissions level than those that burn natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide,” the Los Angeles Times explains.

Here are the key goals of the Clean Power Plan, as outlined by the EPA:

  • Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30% nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year
  • Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 per cent as a co-benefit
  • Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days — providing up to $US93 billion in climate and public health benefits
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8% by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

The EPA will be listening to feedback on the proposal over the next year. The agency plans to finalise the regulations by next June.

The regulation is significant since power plants are the the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States, accounting for around one-third of the nation’s greenhouse emissions.

Here’s a handy chart from the EPA, laying out what greenhouse gas pollution includes.

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