The United States is hoping to take drastic measures to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. However, with the U.S. Congress gridlocked and unable to take any meaningful steps on pretty much anything, the Obama administration has decided to act unilaterally using existing executive authority.
President Obama, through the Environmental Protection Agency, has proposed limits on greenhouse gas emissions from both new – and crucially – existing power plants. The target is coal, the dirtiest form of electricity generation. Coal currently accounts for nearly 40 percent of the total electricity generation mix across the country.
The EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” will cut carbon pollution by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. While that overarching national goal is the headline number, each U.S. state has individual targets for reducing carbon pollution that it must reach. The rule will allow each state to come up with their own plan on how to achieve those emissions reductions. It could mean a renewable portfolio standard, energy efficiency, cap-and-trade programs, or a number of other policies.
No matter what pathway states choose, it can be generally assumed that a lot more renewable energy is on its way. New solar, wind, and geothermal plants will take the place of dozens of coal-fired power plants that are set to retire. As a result, a truly transformational shift in America’s electricity grid…