EPA’s Carbon Emission Plan Goes Easy on States that Pollute the Most
States that rely heavily on coal-fired energy plants insist the Obama administration’s new emissions reduction plan is unfair, amounting to another stage in the so-called “war on coal.” But the program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actually lets many big polluting states off easy, and according to some sources, even lets them increase their carbon pollution output.
Under the EPA’s proposal, nearly 500 power plants nationwide will collectively have to cut their emissions by 25% (based on 2005 levels) within six years, and reach 30% by 2030.
Some states, however, face smaller reductions than others.
Those that rely heavily on coal, like Montana, Kentucky, Wyoming, West Virginia, and Nebraska, don’t have it as bad as their political leaders claim.
For instance, West Virginia will have to cut carbon pollution by 19.8%, while Kentucky’s goal is only 18.3%.
Yet another analysis, by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, found Kentucky will be allowed to expand its emissions by 4% by 2030. It also determined that Missouri, Nebraska and California will be permitted to increase their emissions between 12% and 16%.
Meanwhile, Washington state, one of the lowest carbon emitters, is supposed to cut its pollution output by 72%. Louisiana faces a 68% goal, Arizona and South Carolina 52% each, and Texas 44%.
And yet, it is Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader, who insists the EPA plan represents “the single worst blow to Kentucky’s economy in modern times.”
The plan allows states to develop their own methods for reaching emission goals. Some states will be given as many as four years to finalize those plans, which they may not be required to enact until 2020, according to The Guardian.
Environmental groups and scientists say that the EPA plan does too little to combat climate change or to enable the U.S. to reach the goal set by President Barack Obama five years ago—a 17% cut in 2005 levels of emissions by 2020. The plan is also not enough to forestall the anticipated rise in global temperatures that will bring about a level of climate change deemed catastrophic for the world, according to Ecofys.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
How Obama’s Climate Plan Accommodates Coal States (by Ari Phillips, Think Progress)
Obama Plan to Reduce Pollution Will Allow Some States to Increase Emissions (by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian)
CO2 Emissions Level Drops to 18-Year Low (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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