On Aug. 3, President Barack Obama and EPA Director Gina McCarthy announced EPA’s release of the final version of the Clean Power Plan, establishing the first U.S. limits on carbon pollution. We applaud the Administration for taking this step. The Clean Power Plan will provide a significant opportunity to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels by stepping up our commitment to renewable energy and greater energy efficiency.
The Clean Power Plan requires the nation’s existing power plants to reduce carbon pollution by an average of 32% by 2030, an increase from the target of 30 percent proposed in the draft rule. States must submit implementation plan drafts by 2016, with final versions due in 2018. The final rule also includes incentives for states that invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency prior to 2022.
Energy efficiency investments benefit ratepayers, especially in low-income households and rural communities. Moreover, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory forecasts that an 80 megawatt wind farm can generate nearly 400 jobs, $4.8 million in land lease payments, and $6.3 million in new tax revenues for schools and services like local fire and police forces.
During the Clean Power Plan comment period, the Center for Rural Affairs helped nearly 1100 rural and small town Americans submit comments in support of a strong carbon rule. As we review the final plan in coming months, we should all emphasize energy options that dramatically reduce emissions and protect our health, while keeping our hard-earned dollars closer to home.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.