5 things about US plan to cut carbon from power plants

Steam rises from the stacks of the coal-fired Jim Bridger Power Plant outside Point of the Rocks, Wyoming on March 14, 2014. The United States Environmental Protection Agency released a sweeping rule to cut carbon emissions from US power plants by 30
Steam rises from the stacks of the coal-fired Jim Bridger Power Plant outside Point of the Rocks, Wyoming on March 14, 2014. The United States Environmental Protection Agency released a sweeping rule to cut carbon emissions from US power plants by 30 percent by 2030, the cornerstone of President Barack Obama's pledge to combat climate change. -- PHOTO: REUTERS  

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The United States Environmental Protection Agency released a sweeping rule to cut carbon emissions from US power plants by 30 percent by 2030, the cornerstone of President Barack Obama's pledge to combat climate change.

As part of its Clean Power Plan proposal, which is expected to be finalised over the next year or so, the EPA published the following details and data points.

More details can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards

CLEANING UP POWER PLANTS

Power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, making up roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

All told, the plan puts on track to cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent by 2030, 730 million metric tonnes of carbon pollution.

That is equal to the annual emissions from more than 150 million cars (almost two-thirds of the nation's passenger vehicles) or the annual emissions from powering 65 million homes, over half the homes in America.

BIG PUBLIC HEALTH AND CLIMATE BENEFITS

The Clean Power Plan has public health and climate benefits worth an estimated US$55 billion (S$69 billion) to US$93 billion per year in 2030, far outweighing the costs of US$7.3 billion to US$8.8 billion.

Reducing exposure to particle pollution and ozone in 2030 will avoid a projected:

- 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths;

- 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children;

- 340 to 3,300 heart attacks;

- 2,700 to 2,800 hospital admissions;

- 470,000 to 490,000 missed school and work days.

From the soot and smog reductions alone, for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan, American families will see up to US$7 in health benefits.

The Clean Power Plan will reduce pollutants that contribute to the soot and smog that make people sick by over 25 percent in 2030:

- 54,000 to 56,000 tons of PM2.5;

- 424,000 to 471,000 tons of sulfur dioxide;

- 407,000 to 428,000 tons of nitrogen dioxide.

NUMBER OF POWER PLANTS COVERED BY THE CLEAN POWER PLAN

There are 1,000 fossil fuel fired power plants with 3,000 units covered by this rule.

Utility planners are already making plans to address an aging fleet. The average age of coal units is 42 years. The average age of oil units is 36 years. The average age of natural gas combined cycle units is 14 years.

STATE CLIMATE, ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY STATISTICS

States, cities and businesses have set energy efficiency targets, increased their use of renewable energy, and made agreements to cut carbon pollution.

These are the kinds of programmes that states will be able to use to cut carbon pollution under this proposal:

- 47 states with utilities that run demand-side energy efficiency programmes;

- 38 states with renewable portfolio standards or goals;

- 10 states with market-based greenhouse gas emissions programmes;

- 27 states with energy efficiency standards or goals.

PROPOSED STATE PLAN DATES

June 30, 2016 - Initial plan or complete plan due.

June 30, 2017 - Complete individual plan due if state is eligible for a one-year extension.

June 30, 2018 - Complete multi-state plan due if state is eligible for two-year extension (with progress report due June 30, 2017).