The Clean Power Plan

On June 2nd, President Obama proposed a massive U.S. carbon regulation under the 1970 Clean Air Act. Using executive power, the President issued a new rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Consequences of this rule are reductions in smog, soot, and premature deaths due to respiratory diseases. According to Obama’s announcement, a projected 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks will be avoided over the first year and will rise from there. By 2030, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to drop to 70% of 2005 levels, thus promoting and protecting public health.

Pollution related ailments are mainly caused by particulate matter in the air, typically consisting of liquid and solid particles that contain various allergens, toxic sulfates, nitrates, and metals such as arsenic. In addition to asthma and heart attacks, presence of such particulate matter are proven to cause respiratory tract infections, lung cancer, lung development issues in children and a host of cardiopulmonary diseases. Every year, roughly 800,000 early deaths occur around the world as the due to combustion-related emissions, a quarter of which are in the United States.

Although toxic pollutants can come from natural sources such as volcanic eruptions, man-made sources are the major contributors in urban settings. Particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter predominantly arise from combustion processes such as automobile engine operation, fossil fuel fired power plants, and other man-made undertakings such as mining, the development of raw materials, and metallurgy.

The rule particularly targets carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, the lion’s share of the country’s electricity generation. Approximately 40% of electricity in the US is generated using coal-fired power plants. The EPA already has issued proposals for capping carbon pollution from new power plants last year, and has just issued the rules for existing and modified/reconstructed power plants. This is a major step forward for the US in terms of environmental awareness. European countries such as Germany and Sweden rely on coal-fired plants to generate only 15% of their electricity.

The new rule allows the EPA to regulate pollution from existing sources. State regulators can design strategies to either meet or exceed EPA guidelines and it is up to individual states what approach to take. In 2007, U.S. Supreme Court upheld the EPA’s rights to set standards for carbon dioxide and other pollutants that contribute to global warming. Consequently, the EPA has fallen into the executive branch’s authority to take precedence over the legislative branch if the latter is unable to settle on federal carbon emissions regulations.

By sustaining their efforts, the EPA is expecting to reduce particulate pollution by 25%, avoid thousands of premature deaths, avoid half a million missed school and work days, all the while cutting electricity bills by eight percent by 2030. Contact Bright Energy Services at (347) 470-7090 to learn what you can do to measure and reduce your carbon emissions.


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