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The Environmental Protection Agency's recently proposed Clean Power Plan would not only reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation linked to climate change, it also has the potential to foster growth in energy efficiency and renewable energy jobs, reduce illness-causing air pollutants and give the United States credibility in encouraging international actions to address global warming.
That was the message Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, brought to an audience of state environmental regulators, utility representatives, renewable energy and public health advocates Thursday.
"This really has the opportunity to be transformative," McCabe said, speaking at DEEP Headquarters in Hartford and via monitor to DEEP offices around the state, including DEEP Marine Headquarters in Old Lyme. "The standards really will be beneficial for the economy, for public health and for overall societal good."
McCabe was referring to the Clean Power Plan, a proposal released June 2 that she called the "foundational cornerstone" of President Obama's climate action plan. Over the next 26 years, the rules would cut carbon emissions from utilities by 30 percent below 2005 levels, curb other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide by 25 percent, reduce premature deaths and illness due to asthma and other respiratory conditions, and shrink electricity bills by 8 percent by increasing efficiency and reducing demand, according to the EPA.
Since the announcement, McCabe has been giving talks around the country about the new rules in preparation for public hearings the week of July 28 in Denver, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. Written comments will be received through Oct. 16, with the final standards scheduled to be issued next June.
In her remarks, McCabe commended Connecticut and other New England states that she said have an early lead on reducing emissions-linked climate change. Power plants that burn fossil fuels, she noted, account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, so "you can't avoid them as a place to focus," she said.
The new rules, she said, would give states flexibility and sufficient time in determining how they met the new standards, and would allow them to create regional or multistate plans to work together or individually to meet the goals.
"We don't want to jeopardize the reliability or affordability of power," she said. "We want to give people time to do the best and the right things. Our goal is to have people comfortable with the rules."
CLEAN POWER PLAN
For more information on the Clean Power Plan, visit www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards