This post was written by Climate/Energy Policy Specialist Cindy Lane
Monday marked the closing date for public comments on what is arguably the single most important action the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken to address climate change to date: The Clean Power Plan.
The Iowa Environmental Council joined thousands of Iowans and millions of Americans who submitted comments in support of the proposal, and included recommendations to further strengthen the proposal to result in a higher reduction of carbon pollution from Iowa’s power plants.
Proposed in June, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will combat climate change and its costly impacts on our health, environment and economy by requiring states to cut carbon pollution – a leading contributor to climate change – from their existing, fossil fuel-fired power plants.
Fossil fuel-fired power plants are our nation’s leading source of carbon pollution, but despite this fact, there are currently no federal standards limiting the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can emit.
The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan will establish these necessary limits, and result in a 30% reduction in U.S. carbon pollution by 2030 (from 2005 levels).
Since 2012, EPA has received over 64,000 comments from Iowans and 8 million comments total in favor of the proposal, and widespread support for the plan is understandable. As currently proposed, the Clean Power Plan will result in estimated benefits of up to $95 billion per year by 2030, dramatically outweighing the plan’s projected costs ($7.3-8.8 billion per year in 2030).
The plan will also help to prevent the countless health threats posed by climate change (outlined in the Iowa Climate Statement 2014 and endorsed by 180 scientists, faculty and researchers from 38 Iowa colleges and universities) and help alleviate economic burdens from weather-related disasters. According to Iowa State University’s Climate Science Program, Iowan’s faced over $5.6 billion in economic losses from tornadoes, floods and damage to crops from 2008-2012 alone. The plan presents other economic opportunities for the state as well.
States can help meet their Clean Power Plan standards by adding more clean energy to their energy portfolios, such as wind.
Iowa already has a strong wind industry that stands ready to meet the potential increase in demand for renewables as a result of the proposed plan: According to AWEA, 15 facilities across Iowa manufacture wind turbine parts and the state’s wind industry employed 3,000-4,000 in 2013.
As we move into the New Year, the Council will continue its efforts to support the proposed Clean Power Plan by 1) urging EPA to finalize the rules by June 2015, 2) encouraging Iowa to begin preparing a strong state implementation plan that will detail how we will comply with the Clean Power Plan, and 3) promoting the growth of clean, renewable energy and expansion of energy efficiency measures.