Washington, DC – Today the Obama Administration proposed new state-specific carbon pollution standards for power plants, which are the largest source of carbon pollution in America. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, is hailing the proposed rules as an important step forward in our nation’s effort to combat climate change and protect public health.
“It's long past time for there to be some limit to the carbon pollution that power plants spew into our skies,” said Whitehouse. “It's real and it's serious, but with Republicans in Congress still refusing to take the climate threat seriously, EPA standards are the best we can do to end the polluters’ long holiday from responsibility. I applaud the Obama Administration for moving forward to clean up the worst carbon polluters in this country.”
In addition to cutting carbon pollution from the power sector by 30%, the standard is projected to result in a 25% reduction in particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide pollution. Each year, the health benefits are estimated to prevent as many as 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and 490,000 missed school and work days in 2030, with the economic benefits totaling as much as $93 billion.
EPA is using its authority under the Clean Air Act to set state-specific carbon pollution limits, which states could meet by participating in statewide or regional cap and trade plans. In the Northeast, that approach has created jobs, avoided significant amounts of carbon pollution, and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in energy bill savings.
Rhode Island and eight other states participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which caps carbon pollution in the region while allowing major emitters to purchase pollution permits at auction in order to exceed those caps. Funds generated by the auction sales are invested in renewable energy projects, energy efficiency measures, and conservation efforts, among other things. According to a RGGI report issued earlier this year, greenhouse gas abatement efforts through the initiative have avoided the release of 792,000 tons of carbon pollution, the equivalent of taking more than 149,000 cars off the road. The initiative has also helped consumers save $240 million in from their energy bills.
“Rhode Island and the other RGGI states are proof that there are sensible ways to address carbon pollution that provide significant economic benefits to citizens and local businesses, contrary to the claims being made by the big polluters,” Whitehouse concluded.