The EPA plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama’s Plan To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Photo courtesy of TWA Web Team.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions is only its latest attempt to slow global warming.

A rule (pdf) proposed by Obama on June 2, 2014, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

The EPA would decide different emission targets for each state, dependent on how much carbon dioxide-emitting coal and gas it uses. An interactive map on its website shows what each state will have to do.

Because many coal plants will not be able to meet the emission targets, the rule will force states to switch to cleaner energy like natural gas or renewables, or buy carbon offsets through cap-and-trade programs.

While the EPA has the authority to regulate emission as per the 1970 Clean Air Act, it’s expected that both Congress and industry groups will fight the bill, which the former estimates will cost utilities $8.8 billion (pdf) by 2030.

The same EPA report, however, estimates that the projected emission reduction will have health- and climate-related benefits worth between $48 and $82 billion by 2030.

Electricity prices will likely rise by 4-7% by 2030 – although they’re currently at a historical low.

Other initiatives

This is not the only initiative by this administration to reduce emissions. It’s already succeeded in implementing several initiatives:

  • A higher fuel efficiency standard. Almost doubling the required fuel efficiency for cars, all new cars and light trucks after 2025 have to be able to get 54.5 miles per gallon. Emissions from cars are the second largest source, after electricity.
  • Restricting emissions from new power plants.  By setting a new standard for how much carbon dioxide a power plant can emit, the EPA virtually guaranteed that no new coal plants will be built, as current technology is way behind that standard.

  • Oil and natural gas emission standards. While natural gas emits 50% less carbon dioxide than coal, its production still releases methane, a more potent climate gas. This rule aims to curb that.

Will this help reduce global warming?

If the power plant emission rule survives, along with the other initiatives, the U.S. will be on track to reduce its emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 – as promised by President Obama at a U.N. climate conference in 2009.

However, the U.S. is only responsible for 17.33% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions – meaning that even if America takes this direction, the rest of the world still has to follow in order to slow down climate change.

Ole Skaar