Clean Power Plan takes aim at pollution

States will develop plans to reduce greenhouse gas.
States will develop plans to reduce greenhouse gas.

One month after the warmest June on record, President Barack Obama unveiled a plan to cut power plant emissions and curb global warming.

    “If we want to protect our economy and our security and our children’s health, we’re going to have to do more,” he said during an address Aug. 3 at the White House. “The science tells us that we have to do more."
     Concern about global warming has been building. This past June was the warmest June on record globally, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Human activities are changing the climate in dangerous ways. Levels of carbon dioxide, which heats up our atmosphere, are higher than they've been in 800,000 years," Obama said. "2014 was the planet's warmest year on record. And we've been setting a lot of records in terms of warmest years over the last decade."    
     And there have been no limits to the pollution released by power plants.
    “Right now, our power plants are the source of about a third of America’s carbon pollution," he remarked. "That’s more pollution than our cars, our airplanes and our homes combined.”    
     Obama predicted that there would be objections to the Environmental Protection Agency regulations, and he was right. West Virginia Gov. Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, called the rules “unreasonable, unrealistic and ultimately unattainable for our state. While those who employ our hardworking miners have urged us to refuse to submit a compliance plan, at this point West Virginia still has not determined whether it will submit any plan to the EPA.” He added that the state would review legal options.
      Each state is expected to put together a plan to reduce emissions. “We’re giving states the time and flexibility they need to cut pollution in a way that works for them,” Obama said.
      Compliance begins in 2022, “phasing in the emission reductions gradually over an eight-year averaging period,” according to a news release on
     The standards have been structured to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 by 32 percent from 2005 levels. The goal is to keep 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere, which Obama likened to taking 166 million cars off the road.
     According to the EPA, this is how it works: “States must develop and implement plans that ensure the power plants in their state – either individually, together, or in combination with other measures –achieve the equivalent, in terms of either or rate or mass, of the interim CO2 (carbon dioxide) performance rates between 2022 and 2029, and the final CO2 emission performance rates for their state by 2030.”

     Doing the Math: Scientists and global warming