Why Louisiana should support the USEPA Clean Power Plan

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Why do we need the USEPA Clean Power Plan

The link between elevated levels of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere and rising temperatures is well established (IPCC 2007). Forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and one-third of greenhouse gases overall, come from electric power plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The country needs a plan to reduce carbon emissions from electric power generation.

Why Louisiana should support the USEPA Clean Power Plan

1.    According to USEPA emissions of CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels for electric power generation in Louisiana amounted to 42.96 Million Metric Tons in 2012.(1) This places Louisiana in the top third of states for carbon emissions from the electric power sector. The USEPA Clean Power Plan requires states or USEPA to develop plans for reduction of emissions from generation of electric power in each state. 

2.    EPA allows for flexibility in how states implement the Clean Power Plan but requires that states develop their implementation plans by 2017. States not developing their own implementation plans will receive a plan from EPA. Louisiana can develop a plan more tailored to fit Louisiana than one developed by EPA for our state. Not producing a plan is irresponsible, we can do better than the feds and we can develop a more cost effective plan. 

3.    Compliance with the Clean Power Plan can be met with only modest costs due to the natural trajectory of the power sector away from coal and towards cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. A July 8, 2014 study by Morgan Stanley entitled “Regulated & Diversified Utilities/IPPs, EPA CO2: Costs and Opportunities” estimated that with states working together in regional agreements the impact to ratepayers in the MISO trading Block (includes Louisiana) would be approximately 2 percent.

4.    Dollars being sent out of state to buy coal could be invested in Louisiana on energy solutions including high efficiency natural gas and renewable energy. This means Louisiana jobs in design, construction, retrofitting and maintaining high efficiency natural gas, wind and solar installations. Energy efficiency programs will conserve resources and save money for Louisiana families and businesses. 

5.    The Clean Power Plan can provide new incentives for electric utilities to modernize, building new more efficient generating capacity, building transmission upgrades and diversifying their mix of energy sources. Compliance with the new plan can be cost effective and return value to stockholders and ratepayers.

6.    States can partner together for compliance plans. There is no need for states to be contiguous to cooperate on compliance. Aggregate reduction targets are allowed in multi-state plans. 

7.    Coal from power plants is the major source of mercury emissions to the air in Louisiana. Mercury in the air settles in streams and contaminates fish. Consumption of mercury contaminated fish can lead to cognitive impairment in newborns and senior citizens. There are 48 streams and lakes in Louisiana that have mercury in fish health advisories. Groups at highest risk are pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under seven years old. 

8.    Costs of inaction on climate change are great with Americans already spending $300 per person per year on federal disaster programs that are responding to more frequent and more extreme weather events nationwide. A study by the global reinsurance firm Munich Re examined natural disaster losses between 1980 and 2011, finding that weather-related loss events in North America “nearly quintupled” during the period.(3)

References

(1)    http://epa.gov/statelocalclimate/documents/excel/CO2FFC_2012.xlsx

(2)    http://www.hysec.com/f/tsnr/[D2014]/2014-06/TSNR100/11/RR_3002487745.pdf

(3)    http://www.munichre.com/en/media-relations/publications/press-releases/2012/2012-10-17-press-release/index.html

Learn more about the USEPA Clean Power Plan at: 

http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards

You can send comments in support of the proposed EPA Clean Power Plan. See how to comment at:

http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/how-comment-clean-power-plan-proposed-rule

The comment deadline is Dec 1, 2014. 

This post from Woody Martin, Chair Sierra Club Delta Chapter hrmartin2sc@gmail.com

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