EPA’s Carbon Emission Plan Goes Easy on States that Pollute the Most

Friday, June 06, 2014
Carbon emissions from coal-powered plant

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)


anonamouse 9 years ago
Note to the editors: that scary old photo you ran has been debunked. That's not "carbon" pouring out of the smokestacks (CO2 is of course invisible, and the stacks have scrubbers to limit particulates); it is water vapor condensing on a cold day. ... The truth is, US CO2 emissions began falling in 1992, and continued to fall until 2012, when there was a small uptick.
mememine69 9 years ago
Three decades of needless panic and CO2 death threats to billions of children can only be judged in the history books as a first class war crime of the highest order and you "believers" are the guilty guards in the watch towers. The world's FORMER climate blame "believer" voting majority, freely acknowledge science's 32 years of being "95%" certain that THE END IS NEAR from Human CO2 but are 100% sure the planet is not flat and smoking will cause cancer. You remaining eager "believers" can "believe" all you like but you may not tell children that science "believes" as much as you determined "believers" do. Now who's the neocon? Your Iraq War was exaggerating a crisis to billions of innocent children. And get up to date like real progressives; *Occupywallstreet now does not mention CO2 in its list of demands obviously because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians. *Canada ended Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister.

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