FutureStructure

America's Clean Power Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions 32 Percent by 2030

The White House unveiled a new standard that gives states two years to update their energy and pollution policies.

by / August 3, 2015
In Bookhorst, Germany, a Canon Mark III attached to an RC-Helicopter snapped a photo of wind turbines from nearly 230 feet in the air. dronestagr.am/martinhaemmerli

On Aug. 2, the White House announced America’s Clean Power Plan, a program led by the Environmental Protection Agency intended to reduce carbon pollution in the coming years. The administration predicts that if executed as planned, the program would reduce carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants by 32 percent by 2030, the equivalent of preventing 870 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

On Aug. 3, President Obama presented the program from a White House podium. 

“Today, after working with states and cities and power companies, the EPA is setting the first-ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants,” Obama said. The president later added that the idea of standards are not new, but rather this plan indicates that Washington has merely caught up to the rest of the country.

The rest of the country has been working toward cleaner and more efficient energy sources in recent years, the president noted, citing the more than one dozen states that have established market-based programs to reduce pollution, the two dozen states that have set energy efficiency targets, the more than 35 states with renewable energy targets and the 1,000 mayors who in 2009 agreed to cut carbon emissions in their cities in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. A downward trend in the coal market — a price drop of 20 percent in the past five years — likewise indicates a shift toward green energy.

States are allowed two years to develop power plans that conform to the standard, each plan based on each state's unique power makeup. The president noted that states that take action sooner will be rewarded for not delaying such an important and time-sensitive issue.

The program will cost $8.4 billion, Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, told CNN, and the financial benefits of the program are expected to total between $34 billion and $54 billion.

The new plan faced criticism even before its official announcement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged states not to comply in a letter to all governors. Other critics, like Luke Popovich, vice president of communications for the National Mining Association, have argued that the plan will bring increases to the cost of electricity.

"This plan is all pain and no gain," Popovich said. "That's why state leaders across the country are coming to the same conclusion — that we should not sacrifice our power system to an unworkable plan built on a faulty interpretation of the law."

More information on America’s Clean Power Plan can be found at WhiteHouse.gov.