Today, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft rule to regulate carbon emissions in the United States. The regulation will mandate a reduction of carbon emissions—30% beyond the 2005 carbon levels—from power plants by 2030. Power plants account for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, which are responsible for climate change and pose risks not just to the health of the planet but to the health of individuals, our communities, our economy, and our way of life.
This is the most ambitious action plan ever taken by the US government to fight climate change, but its flexibility makes it achievable. States are allowed to reduce emissions progressively by making changes to their electricity systems through the installation of energy-efficient technologies, renewable energy production, and by joining “cap and trade” programs, which involve the buying and selling of permits to pollute.
The US Chamber of Commerce thoughtlessly calculated that the carbon emission reduction plan will cost about 50 billion dollars annually until 2030. Clearly the coal industry will suffer, but, if examined holistically, this rule will benefit the economy not hurt it. Energy costs will increase, but energy-efficiency technologies will decrease the energy demand and consequently reduce energy bills. The number of jobs created to develop these technologies will exceed the number of jobs reduced in the coal industry and will include not only professional jobs but also jobs in industries like construction, manufacturing, etc.
The EPA estimates that this will cost between $7.3 billion and $8.8 billion annually, but it will be worth nearly $100 billion over the life of the rule in terms of climate change mitigation and health benefits, including the prevention of 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks caused by air pollution.
Furthermore, President Obama and the U.S. Global Change Research Program published a report that summarizes the impact of climate change on the United States, both now and in the future. Incredibly informative, please read more about it here: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/