The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced a new rule for reducing carbon emissions from electrical-power generation.
The rule will affect each state disproportionately. States that rely on coal- and gas-powered plants for energy will need to cut their emissions more. But there’s also a level of flexibility in the proposal in the ways states can meet those goals.
Here’s how the rules affect each state: The EPA started by calculating current levels of carbon emissions from power generation, and used those to estimate emissions reduction goals for each state by 2030.
Here are the EPA’s estimates for the 2012 carbon intensity baseline, from this technical paper attached to the new rules. This shows how much carbon dioxide is released for each megawatt hour of electrical power in each state. Vermont and Washington, D.C., are in grey because they have no fossil-fuel power plants that would be affected by the new EPA rules:
Montana was the most carbon-intensive state with 2,439 pounds of carbon dioxide released for every megawatt hour of electricity produced. But its next-door neighbour, Idaho, was the least intensive state, with just 339 pounds of CO2 released for every unit of electricity.
The variation among the states largely reflect current differences in how each state generates power. According to the EPA’s interactive map here, almost three quarters of Idaho’s power comes from hydro power, with almost no coal power. Meanwhile, half of Montana’s energy comes from coal.
Those differences are reflected in the EPA’s new plan, which includes carbon-reduction goals for each state.
Starting with the 2012 baseline estimates, the EPA applies four calculation steps to estimate how different approaches to cleaner energy could affect emissions: improvements in the efficiency of existing coal power plants, shifting more baseload power generation from coal plants to existing cleaner natural gas plants, using more zero carbon power sources like nuclear plants and renewables, and improving consumption efficiency and reducing demand for electricity.
After applying all those calculations based on the specific characteristics of each state, the EPA produced goals for carbon intensity for the states to reach by 2030. As before, Vermont and D.C. lack power plants affected by the new rules, and are in grey. Here are the per cent reductions for each state that the EPA is currently aiming for:
Here, the goals range from a modest 10.6% cut in North Dakota, to an impressive 71.6% drop in Washington. The three-largest states in coal production — West Virginia, Kentucky, and Wyoming — also have relatively modest goals of between 18 and 20%. Overall, it averages out to a national drop of about 20% from current levels (30% from 2005 levels) by 2030.
As with the variation in the 2012 baselines across the state, the differences in the EPA’s goals come from differences in how states generate power and the kinds of opportunities they have to shift away from coal.
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