Excerpted from WHAT IT WILL TAKE. REJECTING DEAD-ENDS AND FALSE FRIENDS IN THE FIGHT FOR THE EARTH, by Carol Dansereau, pages 292-294 from Chapter 24 The Grand Climate Plan of 2014. 711 In June of 2014, the Obama Administration proposed its long-awaited Clean Power Plan. It is deplorable. Key international bodies have issued multiple urgent calls for major reductions in global warming emissions to prevent climate catastrophe. Specifically, we need 15 to 40% reductions below 1990 emission levels by 2020, and up to 70% reductions before 2050, with groundwork for that being laid in the next 15 years.712 Scientists at Stanford and other institutions have laid out a mix of existing renew- able technologies that can be used to achieve these reductions.713 The Obama plan ignores all of this. It deals only with carbon, omit- ting methane and other greenhouse gases. For carbon, it fails to establish a standard that must be met at existing plants nationwide. Instead it establishes a “carbon intensity” goal for each state. This is a ratio of how much carbon is produced for each unit of power produced. It is not a limit on carbon. The goal for each state takes into account what EPA thinks that state can do, resulting in very different goals across the nation. The plan calls on coal-dependent Kentucky to cut its carbon emissions rate by 19%, whereas hydro-power-using Washington State is asked to cut its emissions rate by 84%, for example. Each state is to submit a plan to EPA choosing whatever way it wants to reach its own special EPA- provided goal. EPA hopes that the states’ actions will result in actual carbon reductions of 30% compared to 2005 emission levels. It makes it clear that there isn’t a baseline against which actual reductions will be assessed, and it is the rate of emissions per volume of power produced that will be examined. The plan is deeply troubling on numerous fronts: * Obama’s targets leave U.S. emissions above 1990 levels in 2030 in direct contradiction to what international agencies say is needed to prevent climate disaster.Even the weak targets set by the plan may not be met. If overall power production increases, emissions may not decline as quickly as hoped or at all even if rates of emissions decline. * The plan gives maximum deference to the states. They can claim to meet targets by establishing or expanding pollution credit trading, for example, a scheme that doesn’t work, as dis- cussed previously. * By leaving things up to the states, Obama’s plan creates a nightmarish hodgepodge instead of a cohesive plan to address a grave threat facing humanity. The plan will be difficult for EPA to oversee.By setting weaker standards for states with the worst carbon pollution records and by letting power plants emit at higher rates if they buy pollution credits, Obama condemns communities living near power plants to disproportionate toxic exposures. This is a
classic form of environmental injustice. * The plan encourages states to subsidize nuclear power plants that are “at risk for retirement” and will apparently allow such subsidies to count towards states meeting their carbon reduction goals. The nuclear plants “at risk for retirement” are the most antiquated and most dangerous plants of all, in other words, the ones we most urgently need to close.714 Policies that “discourage premature retirement of nuclear capacity could be useful elements of CO2 reduction strategies....” EPA says. * The plan promotes natural gas as a panacea, which it is not. The science is clear. We need aggressive, enforceable policies that rapidly end the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, and that transition us to renewable energy. Obama could have proposed such a plan. It could have included moratoriums on permits to fossil-fuel corporations, phase-out timelines for fossil-fuel plants, funding and other support for renewable technologies, a plan to transition displaced fossil-fuel workers to other jobs, programs to ensure sustainable farming methods that sequester carbon and minimize fossil-fuel use, and more. These are the measures that can get us where we need to be. Obama did not propose such a plan despite ample authority under federal environmental statutes. Instead he chose to serve the interests of the fossil-fuel and nuclear energy industries. Endnotes: 711 Sources for this section include EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards and Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule documents released June 2, 2014, including Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule Federal Register Notice and EPA Fact Sheets: Overview of the Clean Power Plan—Cutting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants; Flexible Approach to Cutting Carbon Pollution; National Framework for States; Setting State Goals to Cut Carbon Pollution; and The Role of States— States Decide How They Will Cut Carbon Pollution. Sources also include: Coral Davenport and Peter Baker, “Taking Page from Health Care Act, Obama Climate Plan Relies on States,” International New York Times, June 2, 2014. 712 Ben Spencer, “The World Must Shift to Solar and Wind Power Rapidly to Avoid Catastrophic Global Warming, Say UN scientists in Major Report,” MailOnline, April 12, 2014. 713 Mark Schwartz, “Stanford Scientist Unveils 50-State Plan to Transform U.S. to Renewable Energy,” Feb. 26, 2014. 714 U.S. EPA, Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule, June 2, 2014, pp 152, 214-219, 284- 285; “EPA’s Proposed Carbon Rules Provide Subsidies to Uneconomic, Aging, Dangerous Nuclear Reactors,” GreenWorld, June 2, 2014.
Published on Dec 17, 2017