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Climate Action Plan to Reduce New Power Plant Emissions by Half


Obama's climate action plan includes measures to cut U.S. carbon emissions by promoting clean energy and technologies, prepare for the impacts of climate change on rural and urban zones and communities, and lend the U.S. a leading role in tackling climate change globally through diplomacy and economic incentive.

Among its key provisions are cuts to new U.S. power plant emissions, which attorney generals from 10 states, two cities and three environmental organizations have been expecting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has been slow to act, to pass since April. The group sent a notice to the EPA after the federal agency failed to pass the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) for new power plants mid-April more than a year after its proposal.


The notice, which threatened legal action, stated that 40 percent of the nation's carbon emissions come from electricity production. According to Carbon Monitoring for Action's (CARMA) international database, the U.S. energy sector produced 2,315,599,872 tons of CO2 in 2009, and nearly 70 percent of it came from burning fossil fuels.

"From severe droughts and heat waves to a string of devastating storms in the northeast over the last two years, the undersigned states and cities and our residents already have experienced substantial economic costs, damages to physical infrastructure, disruption to natural ecosystems, and threats to public health as a result of climate disruption caused by increasing greenhouse gas pollution," reads the notice.

The Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council sent a separate but similar letter reminding the EPA of its own preamble in the proposed delayed legislation, which warns that the effects of climate change might be "more frequent and intense heat waves, more severe wildfires, degraded air quality, heavier and more frequent downpours and flooding, increased drought, greater sea level rise and storm surge, more intense storms, harm to water resources, continued ocean acidification, harm to agriculture, and harm to wildlife and ecosystems."

The administration received requests to amend the legislation, which would have limited CO2 emissions to 1,000 pounds per MWh of power, to allow for the construction of new coal-fired power plants and to peg emissions standards to the type of fuel being burned, thus permitting coal-fired plants to emit more CO2. As of 2009, the highest Co2 emmitting coal-fired power plants in the U.S. were emitting more than 1 ton of Co2 per Mwh, twice the recommended amount.

The groups threatening lawsuits announced shortly before Obama's climate speech yesterday that they would refrain from litigation until the president unveiled his new climate plan, which calls for the standards to be finalized "expeditiously."

A coalition of 20 national nonprofit organizations known as the Climate Action Coalition (CAC) has been conducting a shadow campaign headquartered in Washington, D.C. at the offices of the Partnership Project, a nonprofit with an action pack arm able to raise unlimited funds under Citizens United, in support of cutting emmissions.