Obama Administration Issues “Strong and Smart” Final Clean Power Plan—Biggest U.S. Carbon Emission Reduction Measure in History

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Aug 3, 2015

 WASHINGTON (August 3, 2015)—Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing the final version of its Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon emissions from power plants—the single largest source of U.S. global warming pollution.

In the final rule, EPA strengthened the overall 2030 emissions reduction goal (from 30 to 32 percent below 2005 levels), greatly expanded the role for renewable energy in cutting emissions, and established an interstate trading program for states that want to avail of that option as a practical, cost-effective way to lower carbon pollution.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Kimmell was previously commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and chairman of the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an interstate program to cut emissions from power plants.

“We congratulate President Obama and Administrator McCarthy for their bold and visionary leadership, and EPA staff for a final plan that is fair, cost-effective, and builds off of proven, successful policies that many states have already put into action. 

“The Clean Power Plan provides us with our best shot to meet our international climate goals and lead the rest of the world towards a strong international climate agreement. This will also be a catalyst for a clean energy economy at home that will benefit all states through a more diverse energy supply, cleaner air and home grown job growth.   

“We are pleased the facts about cost-effective carbon reductions won out, as evidenced by the increased role for renewables in the plan. UCS has said all along that rapid growth in renewables is feasible and affordable, a fact that is supported by the shift to clean energy already underway.

“And as a former RGGI chair, I know first-hand that states can cut carbon pollution and grow their economies far more effectively when they work together rather than if they act alone. With the final rule, EPA encourages states to collaborate, which makes perfect sense—the electricity market crosses state lines, therefore the best solutions are regional in nature.

“We also note that the final rule wisely includes measures—such as early action credits for investments in renewable energy and an extended initial compliance date—to limit the risks of a rush to gas. Natural gas is still a fossil fuel, with risks of methane leakage in its production and distribution, therefore a large-scale shift to natural gas will make it more difficult for the United States to make the deeper emission reductions needed by mid-century. The rule also takes significant steps to help low-income communities cut their energy bills and join in the benefits of a transition to a low-carbon economy.

“As the responsibility now shifts to states to implement this rule, the Union of Concerned Scientists will work to make sure that states take early action to invest in and prioritize renewables and efficiency—the best solutions to our growing climate crisis—in complying with this rule, and avoid an overreliance on natural gas.” 

Click here to view Kimmell’s latest blog on the Clean Power Plan.

Click here to view the a June 2015 report from UCS, States of Progress, which said that 31 states were on track to be more than halfway toward meeting their near-term 2020 emissions benchmarks in the draft Clean Power Plan.

Click here to view the March 2015 report by UCS on the risks of overreliance on natural gas titled Natural Gas Gamble.