An Affordable Plan to Cut Power Plant Pollution?

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By Erin Weaver

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has proposed a program for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intended to cut carbon emissions from power plants, the largest such pollution source in the U.S. at almost 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide released in 2011. “Closing the Power Plant Carbon Pollution Loophole” suggests system-wide standards, a federal-state partnership, and broad flexibility in compliance for both states and plant owners—a combination NRDC claims would make the changes more affordable. The Clean Air Act would be used to set state-specific emission rates that could be met using a range of existing technologies, as well as credits earned by lower-emitting approaches such as wind power. In addition to stimulating investment in efficiency and renewable energy, NRDC says that the plan would cut power plants’ carbon pollution by one-third by 2025; according to the group, at a cost of about $4 billion, this would save Americans between $25 billion and $60 billion in reduced mortality, illness, emergency room visits, and lost work days. NRDC executive director Peter Lehner points out, “This year’s ravaging heat waves, drought, wildfires, and Superstorm Sandy underscore why the nation must tackle head-on the biggest source of dangerous carbon pollution now.” For more information, see


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December 31, 2012