A Mother’s Day Seal of Approval for EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standard

May 11, 2012
Rachel Cleetus
Policy Director

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about all that my Mom did to give me a great start in life and how I’d like to do the same for my kids. I’d certainly like them, and all kids everywhere, to grow up in a world that’s healthy and safe. But climate change poses a real threat to our kids’ futures and it’s up to us Moms (and Dads and aunts and uncles and responsible adults) to do something about that.

Photo: A Baked Creation www.abakedcreation.com

You may have heard that EPA recently issued draft carbon standards for new power plants. These standards are a small, important step toward lowering our future carbon emissions. (Yes, we clearly need to do a lot more to truly address the threat of climate change – both by sharply reducing our emissions and by building resilience to the impacts of climate change already underway.)

But even these reasonable, commonsense standards are coming under mounting attack from the usual suspects.

The Chamber of Commerce campaign of falsehoods and misinformation on climate

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s press release on the carbon standard is a particularly egregious example of misinformation and scare tactics. First of all, it’s important to note that this standard only applies to new power plants (and also exempts plants that are already permitted and will begin construction within a year). And it’s a fallacy to say that the standard is preventing the building of new coal-fired power plants because, apart from a few plants already in the pipeline, no one is planning to build any more new coal plants! According to EIA’s most recent projections (see Data Table A9), even under a business-as-usual scenario virtually no new conventional coal-fired plants are forecast to be built through 2035.

The fact is coal-fired power plants are becoming increasingly uneconomic for a variety of reasons including competition from lower cost alternatives like natural gas, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. Add to that the enormous health and environmental costs of coal, and it’s clear that we need to diversify our energy base with cleaner, more sustainable options.

Contrary to what the Chamber claims, EPA’s legal authority and obligation to regulate carbon pollution has been clearly affirmed though a 2007 Supreme Court ruling and the issuing of the endangerment finding which establishes the threats to public health and welfare from climate change.

Several economists have confirmed that this standard will have little or no impact on electricity prices. Market conditions are clearly unfavorable for building new coal plants and any new investments are likely to be in natural gas or renewable energy.

The Chamber is out of step with its members on climate

Instead of embracing a future of cleaner energy sources that also help limit the growth in carbon emissions that are fueling climate change, the Chamber has chosen to adopt a short-sighted stance. The Chamber has a history of this kind of head-in-the-sand thinking on climate issues, which has already led to the exodus of members like Apple, Exelon and PG&E who recognize the need to acknowledge the science and take action on climate change. Many others (including Nike, General Electric and Johnson and Johnson) have explicitly said that the Chamber does not represent their views on climate change.

Show your support for limits on global warming emissions  

You can make a difference: Please send comments to EPA in support of these critical standards that will help protect our health and environment from the impacts of global warming. Moms (and responsible adults) everywhere would approve!