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U.S. climate action received support yesterday from four former EPA administrators who served Republican presidents. William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. Thomas, William K. Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman testified before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee at a hearing entitled “Climate Change: The Need to Act Now.”

They delivered a clear message for Congress: Climate change is one of the greatest threats to America’s economy, environment, and communities—and it need not be a partisan issue.

The EPA's proposed rule to cut carbon pollution from power plants is a critical step in avoiding the worst consequences of global warming. Without significant reductions from the power sector—America’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions—the country cannot meet its goal of reducing its emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. EPA’s proposal provides a flexible framework that puts those reductions within reach.

Here’s a look at how the proposed rule would impact states and the future of U.S. climate action.

To this day, carbon pollution—the main driver of climate change—has not been controlled from power plants.

That’s why the U.S. EPA’s new rules are so momentous, putting federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants for the first time. With the power sector representing a third of America’s carbon footprint, these rules are the biggest single action the administration can take to drive down greenhouse gases.

Arkansas has already taken steps to reduce its near-term power sector CO2 emissions by implementing energy efficiency policies. And the state has the opportunity to go even further. In fact, new WRI analysis finds that Arkansas can reduce its CO2 emissions 39 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 by implementing new clean energy strategies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Achieving these reductions will allow Arkansas to meet moderately ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized in 2015.


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