June 2, 2014 – by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
June 2, 2014 will certainly go down in history as a potential turning point in the way humanity deals with the whole crisis of climate change and global warming. Today, EPA finally began to take action to quell carbon emissions from coal fired power plants by issuing a proposed rule to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions from power plants by 30% by 2030.
It’s not as though the action taken was “draconian” as it was described by Senate Minority chair and Kentucky Senator, Mitch McConnell, however.
Apparently McConnell did not bother reading the proposed rule since Valley Watch would describe it more as a guidance document than a rule, leaving all sorts of options for the individual states to pursue meeting some rather lenient goals suggested by EPA on an effort that is a full 20% below the level scientists tell us is needed to have a real impact on our collective future.
But clearly it was not only McConnell who failed to study the proposal and reacted in a knee jerk fashion. Indiana Governor Mike Pence claims the State will fight the proposed rules which mainly call for increased use of renewable energy, efficiency and conservation while assuring the public that coal, oil and gas, the fossil fuel trifecta will remain in America’s future. Of course, Pence just recently allowed for the Indiana legislature to end Indiana’s successful energy efficiency program called “Energize Indiana.”
Already, we are well on our way to complying with the proposal, having various utilities announce the retirement of several large and small existing coal plants. Coal’s day has past and even if McConnell and Pence refuse to acknowledge it, the reduced price of natural gas and the ever increasing price of burning coal, both old and new, have given coal the boot in the marketplace, one that is mostly loved by the Republican rightwing.
Had Indiana chosen to continue its successful efficiency program and embraced this tremendous opportunity to alter the energy paradigm instead of fighting it, Indiana could be a leader. Sadly we are opting to see the rest of the world leave us behind in some bizarre notion that the status quo is better than progress.
Yes, there is no doubt that some number of coal miners will be out of a job and it appears that coal companies like Peabody will likely see their stock value decline and some of that can be ascribed to this rather weak rule. But, in the end, there are far better economic opportunities in efficiency, renewables and conservation that continuing to prop up the coal dinosaur.
EPA estimates that their new rule will cost a lot of money, $7.3 to $8.8 billion each year. But they also say that the benefits from implementation of the rule will be a whopping $55 to $93 billion each year.
The rule also will benefit public health. According to EPA’s analysis including avoiding annually:
• 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths
• 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children
• 340 to 3,300 heart attacks
• 2,700 to 2,800 hospital admissions
• 470,000 to 490,000 missed school and work days
Since the tri-state is where much of the action will take place, it can be assumed that this region will profit substantially from these health benefits.
Valley Watch has been a long supporter of addressing climate change and is proud of our record in stopping numerous coal plants around the country with the help of our colleagues.
However, we would prefer the use of a “Carbon Tax” which would be at least partially “revenue neutral.” But we acknowledge that under the current political make up in Washington, such a plan has no place in reality. Thus, we applaud today’s action and consider it a possible turning point on dealing with the global warming crisis.
To learn more and download the proposed rule, including supporting materials go to: http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule