The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled standards last week that will force this country’s power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent in 16 years. The rules are the cornerstone of President Obama’s policy on curbing climate change.
Administration officials hope the move will convince China and developing countries to reduce carbon emissions as part of a new international treaty slated for debate in Paris in 2015.
Meanwhile, both critics and supporters of the new EPA rules agree on one thing — meeting the standards would sharply reduce this nation’s reliance on coal to produce public power. The coal industry says the Obama administration’s rules will kill jobs and increase the cost of electricity. Those added costs, they say, will be felt profoundly by both residential ratepayers and businesses.
Supporters of the standards, however, argue the EPA regulations will slow climate change and wean the United States from a dirty form of energy. Proponents also say the change will open the door to cleaner and “greener” forms of energy production.
The EPA’s 645-page plan sets a different reduction target for each state and gives individual states the flexibility in reaching those goals. At the same time, the plan sets a national goal for a 30 percent reduction of heat-trapping CO² emissions by 2030.
Officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority say the public utility is off to a good start in meeting the new EPA standards. The TVA said its total carbon emissions are currently 30 percent below 2005 levels, and they are projected to be 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson told reporters during a conference call last week his system has closed 14 of its coal-fired units while investing in emissions controls at existing plants. At the same time, TVA has added natural gas-fired plants and plans to bring an additional carbon-free nuclear unit at its Watts Bar site online by 2015.
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