GHG Emissions, Regulation, Utilities, Regulation - November 29, 2016
Report: US already beating Clean Power Plan targets
Despite significant uncertainty surrounding the future of the U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan, a new analysis of government data shows the country is already meeting a number of its outlined targets.
According to the analysis of data provided by The Sierra Club to Politico, changes to the nation's power generation mix have already made the electricity sector reach the Clean Power Plan's 2024 goal for cutting carbon emissions and its 2030 target for reducing coal use. The political news organization pointed to the shift away from coal-fired power generation at many of the country's largest power and utility companies for years in favor of natural gas-fired and renewable energy facilities as cleaner and more economical choices as the primary driver of the reductions.
According to Politico, the analysis shows that U.S. power plants are on track to emit 1.76 billion metric tons of carbon in 2016, which represents a 27% reduction from 2005. That figure is below the Clean Power Plan's interim goal for 2024 and almost to the 32% reduction called for under the plan by 2030.
"If you subtract emissions from the 71 operating coal plants that already have announced retirement dates, the electric sector has just about met the plan's final emissions goals 15 years early, even though the plan does not now have and may never have any legal teeth to compel compliance," Politico reported.
The report came as the energy sector and government officials have been trying to gauge what energy policy might look like under President-elect Donald Trump, who previously called climate change a hoax, and promised during his campaign to withdraw U.S. support of the Paris climate agreement and dismantle the Clean Power Plan, which is currently tied up the U.S. courts.
Politico reported Nov. 18:
Even if President-Elect Trump fulfills his pledge to withdraw from the Paris climate deal, the U.S. is on track to fulfill its pledges under that deal, a glimmer of good news for environmentalists mourning his election. What is not clear is whether Trump, who has vowed to undo the Clean Power Plan and end Obama’s "war on coal," can reverse the decline of coal or even slow it down.
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