(Washington, DC – September 20, 2013) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is applauding today’s announcement of federal carbon pollution standards for new fossil fuel fired power plants. Fossil fuel-burning power plants are the single largest of source of climate destabilizing emissions in the nation.
“Right now there are no limits at all on the largest source of carbon pollution, so this is a necessary and commonsense step. As communities across our country struggle with terrible floods, droughts, and wildfires, these standards will finally put a limit on the carbon pollution that new power plants emit into our skies,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “Cleaner power generation will protect our children from dangerous smog, extreme weather, and other serious climate impacts, and ensure that America leads the world in the race to develop cleaner, safer power technologies.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed standards would establish the first nationwide limits on climate-destabilizing pollution from new coal-fired power plants. EPA proposed similar standards in March of 2012 and has revised them today in response to public comment. EPA has also proposed national limits on the carbon pollution for new gas plants. EPA’s new emissions performance standards are similar to clean air standards adopted by states across the country.
The National Climate Data Center reports that the U.S. experienced twelve climate disasters each causing more than a billion dollars of damage in 2012, including a yearlong drought and widespread crop failure in 22 states, western wildfires that burned over 9.2 million acres, and Hurricane Sandy, which devastated major population centers in the Northeast. Climate change is of course not the sole cause of such events, but it is a contributing factor. Scientists say these impacts will affect American communities with increasing frequency and severity as climate-destabilizing emissions continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.
As climate change accelerates, we simply cannot afford to build any more high emitting plants. U.S. power plants emit approximately 2.3 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution each year, 40% of the carbon pollution emitted in the United States. The average coal fired power plant emits 3.5 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year—and the average retirement age of these plants is 50 years.
A wide variety of solutions are available today to meet our nation’s energy needs under the proposed standards, including more efficient use of energy, renewable energy, highly efficient natural gas plants, and coal plants that permanently capture and store carbon pollution. Indeed, in 2012, wind energy topped all other resources in new capacity additions deployed in the U.S. 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.