US aims to clean up power

2nd September 2015


Measures to cut carbon emissions from power stations in the US by almost one-third below 2005 levels by 2030 have been announced by president Barack Obama.

Power stations in the US account for one-third of the country’s carbon emissions and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean power plan will cut these by 32% or 870 million tonnes by 2030 compared with 2005. The plan will also reduce by 2030 emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from power plants by 90% and 72% respectively compared with 2005.

The plan has been revised since a draft was published last year. The agency said the final plan would cut 70 million tonnes more of carbon than the previous proposal. “The valuable feedback we received means the final plan is more ambitious yet more achievable, so states can customise plans to achieve their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses and utilities,” said agency administrator Gina McCarthy.

The plan sets uniform carbon pollution standards for power plants across the country, but sets individual state goals based on their current energy mix and their opportunities to cut pollution. The agency said this flexibility would enable states to run their more efficient plants more often, switch to cleaner fuels, use more renewable energy, and take advantage of emissions trading and energy-efficiency options.

Under the plan, carbon reductions can begin now, and each state needs to hit its interim target by 2022 and its final target by 2030. The 2022 deadline for achieving mandatory emission reduction targets is two years later than that set in the draft. The agency said the extension would give utilities more time to make investments and upgrades.

The agency estimates that, by 2030, the net public health and climate-related financial benefits from the plan will be worth $45 billion a year.

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