A New Clean Power Plan: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is Hopeful in EPA's June 2, 2014 Press Confe

June 2, 2014 by Kristina M. Tridico, Partner
Saying we "don't settle, we lead," EPA Administrator McCarthy wants all of us, especially moms and businesses, to use the "moral obligation" to deliver on the promise of a healthy tomorrow. Citing  "supercharging risks" today, EPA proposed a Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution by the power sector.   McCarthy said that "families’ health and kids’ future" create this moral obligation to act on climate change. According to McCarthy, EPA wants to turn climate risks into business opportunities to spur business innovation so that the United States leads the world.
In this morning's press conference, EPA outlined two key goals of the Clean Power Plan which will cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels.
1. Setting achievable, enforceable state goals to cut carbon pollution per megawatt hour
2. A national framework to give states flexibility to create their own customized path to meet their goal.
McCarthy provided that in 2030, when states meet their final goals, the nation will have 30 percent less carbon pollution in sectors across the economy in the US from 2005 levels, "as if we canceled out all of the annual carbon pollution from two-thirds of the cars and trucks in America."  EPA believes this will lead to lower medical bills and fewer trips to the ER for most vulnerable populations. McCarthy said this proposal is also about environmental justice.  
Her position on the Clean Power Plan as outlined in the press conference this morning is that the Plan is:
Flexible: ambitious but achievable
Tailored to each state’s own circumstances
Reach goal in whatever way works best for them
Focuses on where states are today and where they are heading
Each state is different so each goal and each path can be different
From the Plant to the Plug
The Plant
Coal/natural gas
Does not change plan for this mix
Modernize aging plants, increase efficiency, lower pollution
Conventional fuels in a carbon constrained world
More efficient, less polluting plants
Non-carbon sources
Nuclear, wind and solar
Homegrown clean energy posting record revenues
The Plug
Squeeze most out of every electron
More efficiency at homes and businesses
Mix and match to get state goals

EPA wants states to utilize multi-state market based programs to achieve these goals, or to form new ones. Ms. McCarthy provided that more players mean more flexibility and more flexibility means lower costs. The goals is to design plans now and start reductions for the trajectory to meet final goals in 2030. The ultimate goal is a smooth transition to cleaner power.  EPA's position is that the choices provide states with a chance to set the downpayment on a more efficient 21st century power program.
McCarthy's parting thoughts were to "act today to advance the ball; limit the dangers to punt the ball to our own children." With former Indiana Department of Environmental Management administrator, now EPA's Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation,  Janet McCabe, in the front row as a primary drafter of the rule, thought leaders in Indiana will now have to determine what the plan for the State of Indiana ought to include. Perhaps the best strategic business opportunity is the expansion of the generation and transmission infrastructure that McCarthy outlined and the chance for Indiana grown ingenuity to lead the charge on advanced technologies for existing power plant reductions. As this develops, our traditional power generation sources will be, like me, focusing on the details of the Clean Power Plan and determining how to best direct future growth and plan implementation.  For more information see http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule or contact Kristina Tridico at kristina.tridico@icemiller.com

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