August 21, 2018

Proposed Clean Power Plan Replacement Would Do Close to Nothing on Reducing Emissions

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (August 21, 2018)—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has reportedly signed a plan to curb carbon emissions from the power sector—a plan so scaled back from the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan that it would do close to nothing and under some circumstances could even lead to increased emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

 Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

 “The proposal fails to meet EPA’s mandatory duty to curb global warming emissions from major sources such as power plants, which account for about twenty-eight percent of US greenhouse gas emissions. The plan calls for only modest efficiency improvements at individual power plants, which will barely make a dent in cutting heat-trapping emissions from the electricity sector, and could even, under some circumstances, lead to increased emissions depending on how much the plants are run.

"The law could not be more clear—it requires EPA to adopt the ‘best system of emissions reduction,’ but the EPA has instead opted for the ‘lamest system of emissions reduction.’

“This proposal would also result in more pollution from nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and other harmful pollutants. That health burden will likely fall disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color.

“Underpinning the proposal is blatantly crooked math that attempts to undercount the significant public health and economic benefits of cutting carbon pollution as well as the other air pollutants, such as soot and smog, that are produced when fossil fuels are burned. Public health officials and economists have universally called out these egregiously flawed assumptions embedded in the analysis that accompanies the proposal.

“The administration is clearly intent on swinging its wrecking ball at two of the most important national policies that address climate change. Coming on the heels of the proposed rollback of EPA’s clean car standards, this shows the administration plans to sit on its hands while communities reel from heatwaves, drought, wildfires and flooding, all of which are worsened by climate change.

“This will do little to bring back coal-fired power, which is increasingly uneconomic compared to wind, solar and natural gas. If the administration is sincere about wanting to help coal miners, they should help coal communities diversify their local economies and provide transition assistance and worker retraining.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.