EDF applauds historic clean air standards for power plants

Proposed limits on carbon pollution will protect Americans' health and strengthen economy

March 27, 2012
Contact: 

Contacts:
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org
Megan Ceronsky, 202-650-2277, mceronsky@edf.org

(Washington, DC – March 27, 2012) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is giving a "standing ovation" to today’s announcement of clean air standards for fossil fuel power plants, the single largest of source of carbon pollution in the nation.

"EPA deserves a standing ovation for today's historic action to protect Americans’ health, strengthen our economy, and address the clear and present danger of carbon pollution," said EDF President Fred Krupp. "The bottom line for our nation is that cleaner power will cut harmful carbon pollution, protect our children from dangerous smog and other serious climate impacts, and help secure a safe and prosperous future."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed standards would establish the first nationwide limits on climate-destabilizing pollution from new power plants, essentially halving the emission rate for new coal plants relative to uncontrolled levels. EPA’s new standards are similar to clean air standards adopted in a number of states [PDF].

U.S. power plants emit about 40% of the carbon pollution [PDF] in the United States and are one of the largest greenhouse gas emission sources in the world. They are responsible for 2.3 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution annually, far exceeding other pollution sources.

EPA recently released national greenhouse gas emissions data identifying the largest emission sources in the U.S.

A wide variety of solutions are available today to meet the proposed standards, including more efficient use of existing electricity resources, electricity powered by the wind and the sun, highly efficient natural gas plants, and coal plants that permanently capture and store carbon pollution.

Today's proposal will provide power companies with the certainty they need to invest now-sidelined resources in cleaner, safer and more efficient solutions to meet U.S. electricity needs – creating jobs in the process.

Research by the U.S. Global Change Research Program indicates that continued emissions of carbon pollution and other heat-trapping gases are very likely to cause increasingly grim impacts on American communities, including:

  • Rising levels of ground-level ozone pollution – commonly known as smog -- which causes an increased risk of respiratory infections, more asthma attacks, and more premature deaths
  • An increase in the number and severity of heat waves, and an increased risk of illness and death from extreme heat
  • More intense rainstorms, hurricanes, and storm surges
  • More wildfires and increasingly frequent and severe droughts
  • Increases in insect pests and in the prevalence of diseases transmitted by food, water, and insects

EPA's proposal was required under a Settlement Agreement with EDF, NRDC, Sierra Club and numerous states including New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York.

The new standards follow the lead of states across the country [PDF] that have established or are developing limits on the carbon pollution from new power plants, including Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, Minnesota, and New York.

You can read more about the importance of the new standards [PDF] and see more about the effects of climate change on EDF’s website.

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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. See twitter.com/EnvDefenseFund; facebook.com/EnvDefenseFund.