More than half of US states are on track to meeting their 2020 CO2-reduction goals under the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, according to an analysis published on Wednesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
The UCS examined the existing policies of all states including carbon caps, mandatory renewable electricity requirements, energy efficiency standards and announced coal plant closures, and it found that the commitments of 31 states put them more than half way towards meeting their 2020 goals.
The targets are a milestone towards an ultimate goal of cutting CO2 by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, as proposed under the EPA plan backed by President Obama.
Opponents of the EPA’s plan, including Republican lawmakers, a group of mainly ‘red’ states, and the coal industry, argue that the new rules will raise consumer power bills and cost millions of jobs.
“Our research shows this Chicken Little forecast is unfounded given that a majority of states are already more than halfway toward meeting their 2020 benchmarks with 14 even on track to exceed them.” said UCS president Ken Kimmell.
Of those 14, nine are members of the RGGI scheme, three are among the nation’s most coal dependent states, and two are challenging the rules in court.
“Clean Power Plan opponents have also mischaracterized the compliance timeline for states,” said Jeremy Richardson, a senior energy analyst at UCS.
“The EPA has made it clear that the 2020 benchmark is not a requirement states must achieve, but rather a checkpoint to help states get on an emissions reduction trajectory toward meeting the mandatory 2030 goal.”
The UCS found that an additional nine states are more than 75% of the way towards their 2020 targets.
It added that six of the 31 states are currently suing the EPA to stop the CPP from becoming law over fears it will destroy their economies.
“It defies logic and reason … These six states are doing a great job proving the EPA’s case – that states can meet these new standards affordably and reliably, because they already have commitments in place to help them do so,” Richardson added.
The analysis found that 39 states have together closed or are scheduled to close at least 295 coal-fired power plants between 2012 and 2020, equivalent to more than 10% of the country’s total coal generation capacity.
For a UCS breakdown of state efforts towards 2020 goals, click here.
Meanwhile, the EPA this week sent its final proposal to regulate CO2 from existing power plants under the CPP to the White House Office of Management and Budget for interagency review, typically one of the final steps before such a measure is approved by the executive branch.
The OMB is also reviewing the EPA’s final proposal to regulate emissions from new plants.
The EPA expects to publish the final CPP rules in August, after which states will have one year to submit their plans if they are acting unilaterally, or two years if they collaborate in a multi-state effort.
Doug Scott of the non-partisan group Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development, which is helping Midwest states prepare for the CPP, said he anticipates 49 of the 50 states will submit plans once the rules are finalised, according to comments made to insideclimatenews.org.
Scott added he expects only Oklahoma to hold out after the governor in April issued an executive order barring state officials from developing a strategy to comply with the CPP.
The Obama administration is also expected, around the same time, to propose new emissions regulations for the oil and gas sectors, with final rules anticipated a year later.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org