On Monday afternoon, President Obama announced the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Under the Plan, the United States is mandated to cut its carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030.
As Gizmodo points out, “[t]he brilliance – or the downfall of this plan” is that individual states have the freedom to decide how they will implement it. Because it’s asking for nothing short of an energy revolution in the span of 15 years, that’s very convenient for states that are willing to comply. For those states that won’t, it may lead to major headaches.
Under the final version of the CPP, states will have until 2018 to submit the final versions of their plans and until 2022 to begin implementing them. This extends the deadline two years from the initial proposal, first announced in June 2014.
“States and utilities told us they needed more time than the proposal gave them—and we listened,” EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said Sunday. “That’s why, in the final rule, required pollution reductions don’t kick in until 2022. That’s a two-year extension. We want to make sure utilities have plenty of time to take carbon pollution into account with the investments they’re already making and shift to a low-carbon future.”
This landmark initiative marks the first time the federal government has listed carbon dioxide as an environmental pollutant. The ruling follows the long-standing scientific consensus that CO2 and other greenhouse gases are trapping the heat of the sun and accelerating the warming of the globe.
“We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change,” said Obama on Monday, “and the last generation that can do something about it.” In a video posted to social media on Saturday, the President called the CPP “the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change.”
Not everyone is pleased with the plan, however, and Republicans and conventional energy companies are both crying foul.
At the Freedom Partners Summit in California on Sunday, Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) said the CPP “will make the cost of electricity higher for millions of Americans.”
Luke Popovich, vice president of communications for the National Mining Association, called the plan “all pain and no gain.”
McCarthy publicly denounced such gainsaying on Sunday. “Some special interest critics will tell you that it can’t be done,” she said. “They’ll say we have to focus on the economy at the expense of the environment. They’ll tell you EPA’s plan will turn the lights off and send utility bills through the roof but they are wrong.”
For more information on the Clean Power Plan, check out these previous Planet Experts articles: