It’s July, it’s beautiful out, and all thoughts naturally turn to… the Clean Power Plan! This historic, first-ever nationwide limit on carbon emissions from power plants will be finalized within weeks. Many of my colleagues and I have spent months deep in the weeds of the technical details of the draft proposal. But it’s important to look at the big picture, and think about why we’re doing this. Here are six reasons I really care about this powerhouse of a rule – and why you might too.
1. I ♥ renewables
Renewable energy is one of the fastest growing sources of power in the U.S. (In 2015, wind capacity additions are projected to exceed natural gas). And the costs of wind and solar power are falling dramatically. The cost of wind power has dropped by way more than half since 2009, making it the cheapest option — even cheaper than natural gas — for new power plants in many regions. And solar PV system costs have dropped by half just since 2010. The Clean Power Plan is going to help drive renewable energy even further.
2. Renewables = U.S. jobs
With all that wind and solar come tons of local economic benefits—manufacturing and installation jobs, tax revenues for cities and towns, income for landowners hosting renewable energy projects, and more. More than 70,000 people work in wind energy and more than 170,000 in solar. As renewable energy grows, here and abroad, the U.S. is well positioned to be a leading exporter of innovative technologies and know-how.
3. Energy efficiency saves money
Using energy smartly is the best way to cut electricity bills and save us all money. A recent Department of Energy analysis of the Clean Power Plan shows that energy efficiency plays a key role in keeping electricity bills down nationwide. Electricity bills are only slightly higher by 2030 and are actually lower by 2040, all while we get carbon emissions to drop by a third by 2030. Analysis by ACEEE shows that a robust suite of energy efficiency policies nationwide could cut power plant carbon emissions and power demand by a quarter by 2030.
4. Clean air saves lives
Switching to cleaner forms of energy like wind and solar is already helping cut air and water pollution from coal-fired power plants, and there’s lots more to come. A recent study from researchers at Harvard found that a strong, flexible Clean Power Plan will provide “large, widespread, and nearly immediate health benefits” to states and communities, preventing thousands of premature deaths in the U.S. every year and avoiding more than a thousand heart attacks and hospital stays annually for people getting sick from air pollution.
5. It’s time to #ActOnClimate
The Clean Power Plan is a really important piece of our fight against climate change. Climate change is already helping make worse the risks and impacts of drought, heat waves, coastal flooding and wildfires across the country. A recent EPA report shows that actions across the globe to reduce carbon emissions will bring significant benefits to us here in the U.S. Estimates of those benefits include, by 2050:
- 13,000 fewer deaths from air pollution and 1,700 fewer deaths from extreme heat and cold
- 29%-45% fewer severe and extreme droughts, which would help avoid more than a billion dollars in agricultural losses
- billions of dollars in avoided costs for repairing roads, bridges, storm water systems, coastal properties and other property and infrastructure
6. I Care about Our Children’s Future
The risks of climate change are already increasing, but it’ll be much more damaging for our kids and our grandkids if we don’t take strong action to make deep cuts in our carbon emissions today. The Clean Power Plan is a really important step along that path because it aims to cut emissions from the biggest source of U.S. global warming emissions. The positive global momentum fueled by serious climate action from the U.S. is going to take us that much further. Let’s do our best to give future generations a better world.
Check out all the sharable graphics at the Union of Concerned Scientists.