11:39am

Mon June 2, 2014
Carbon Emissions

EPA emissions plan for New York state wants 45% reduction by 2030

The Clean Power Plan will 'unleash market forces' and 'protect local economies and jobs,' said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy in her speech outlining the guidelines that aim to cut carbon pollution levels by 30 percent compared to 2005 levels.

Launching the plan in Washington DC Monday,  McCarthy clearly tried to get out ahead of the anticipated objections to the emissions cuts by highlighting the potential for business, by saying that the measures will 'spur business innovation and investment'.

The target would be achieved by targeting power plants which are responsible for one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA.

The plan has been condemned as 'job-killing' by representatives of states with high levels of dependency on the coal industry.

McCarthy argued that more jobs were at risk through inaction on the issue.

Climate inaction is costing us more money, in more places, more often. 2012 was the second most expensive year in U.S. history for natural disasters. Even the largest sectors of our economy buckle under the pressures of a changing climate, and when they give way, so do businesses that support them, and local economics that depend on them. 

As our seas rise, so do insurance premiums, property taxes, and food prices. If we do nothing, in our grandkids’ lifetimes, temperatures could rise 10 degrees and seas could rise 4 feet. The S&P recently said climate change will continue to affect credit risk worldwide.

This is not just about disappearing polar bears or melting ice caps. This is about protecting our health and our homes. This is about protecting local economies and jobs.

McCarthy said there would be major job creation spurred by construction and development of alternative energy supplies.

She also emphasized the flexibility of the plan, saying that states could form coalitions to help them achieve emissions targets if they couldn't do so alone.

We know that coal and natural gas play a significant role in a diverse national energy mix. This Plan does not change that—it recognizes the opportunity to modernize aging plants, increase efficiency, and lower pollution. That’s part of an all-of-the-above strategy that paves a more certain path for conventional fuels in a carbon constrained world.

States also have the opportunity to shift their reliance to more efficient, less polluting plants. Or, instead of low carbon sources, there’s always the opportunity to shift to “no” carbon sources like nuclear, wind, and solar.

The emissions target for New York state, achieved by transitioning from coal-fired electricity production to other generation, would see emission down to 55 percent of their 2005 levels. 

The EPA website has an interactive map which outlines the detail of plans state-by-state and here are the comments for New York.

"In 2012, New York’s power sector CO2 emissions were approximately 32 million metric tons from sources covered by the rule. The amount of energy produced by fossil-fuel fired plants, and certain low or zero emitting plants was approximately 71 terawatt hours (TWh)*. So, New York’s 2012 emission rate was 983 pounds/megawatt hours (lb/MWh).

EPA is proposing that New York develop a plan to lower its carbon pollution to meet its proposed emission rate goal of 549 lb/MWh in 2030."

Administrator McCarthy framed her comments within the context of rising health costs associated with greenhouse gas emissions, including the impact on medical services. On the issue of energy costs, McCarthy said that: 

I know people are wondering: can we cut pollution while keeping our energy affordable and reliable? We can, and we will. Critics claim your energy bills will skyrocket.  They’re wrong.  Any small, short-term change in electricity prices would be within normal fluctuations the power sector already deals with.  And any small price increase—think about the price of a gallon of milk a month—is dwarfed by huge benefits. This is an investment in better health and a better future for our kids.

Following the release of the guidelines Michael Whatley, an Exec. VP with Consumer Energy Alliance released a statement: 

We are very concerned with the numbers. In the name of 'flexibility,' EPA is handing the states an unfunded mandate with instructions to eliminate coal-fired generation. We need to have all options on the table – including nuclear, natural gas, renewables and coal – in order to ensure that utilities and electric cooperatives can deliver affordable and reliable electricity to America’s families, factories and farms. Unfortunately, both the level of cuts in coal-based generation and the timelines for implementation that are proposed today will cause substantial reliability concerns and will ensure higher electricity prices across the board.

Marcia Bystryn. President of the New York League of Conservation Voters said in a release:

"This is the biggest step we've ever taken for the biggest challenge we've ever faced. It helps meet our moral obligation to future generations to act on climate change at a time when we’re seeing impacts on our health and our communities nationwide.

This is a plan that can be shaped by the states, giving Governors the flexibility they need. The American people support these commonsense safeguards and are sick of the lie that pollution has to be the fuel of our economic engine.”

There will be a 120 day public comment period, including four public meetings.

In September 2013, the EPA outlined emissions guidelines for future power plants

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