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In the State of the Union address last night, President Obama called to make this “a year of action.” Addressing climate change will require his administration to make that call a reality.

The most important task the administration can take is to set greenhouse gas emissions standards for existing power plants—a move that the President highlighted in his speech last night. Ambitious power plant standards are a critical starting point if the United States is to rise to the climate change challenge.

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When President Obama addresses the nation later today, climate change is expected to be featured. The president recently said that one of his personal passions is “leaving a planet that is as spectacular as the one we inherited from our parents and our grandparents.” The next two years will determine if his administration can meet this standard.

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Thanks to efforts to reduce its coal use, Minnesota is producing more power while decreasing its carbon dioxide pollution. But the state has the potential to go even further.

New WRI analysis finds that Minnesota can reduce its carbon dioxide emissions 31 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 just by complying with its current policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure opportunities. Achieving these reductions will allow Minnesota to meet potentially ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized next year.

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Wisconsin has already taken strides to reduce its near-term power sector CO2 emissions by implementing cost-effective clean energy policies. And the state has the opportunity to go even further. In fact, new WRI analysis finds that Wisconsin can reduce its CO2 emissions 43 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 by extending its existing clean energy policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Achieving these reductions will allow Wisconsin to meet even ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized in 2015.

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WRI analysis finds that Colorado can reduce its CO2 emissions 29 percent below 2011 levels by 2020. These reductions would meet or exceed moderately ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards. Although EPA has not yet announced what its power plant emissions standards will look like, WRI based its analysis on two hypothetical standards. Under these scenarios, Colorado would be required to reduce its CO2 emissions in the range of 28 to 37 percent below 2011 levels by 2020.

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As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moves forward with standards to reduce power plant emissions—which are due to be finalized in June 2015—many states are wondering how they will comply. WRI’s fact sheet series, Power Sector Opportunities for Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions, examines the policies and pathways various states can use to cost-effectively meet or even exceed future power plant emissions standards. This post explores these opportunities in Colorado. Read about additional analyses in this series.

Colorado is generating more electricity than it has in the past, but it’s doing so while emitting less carbon dioxide pollution thanks to ongoing efforts to ramp down coal use. And the state has the potential to go even further. In fact, new WRI analysis finds that Colorado can reduce its CO2 emissions 29 percent below 2011 levels by 2020 just by complying with current policies and taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Achieving these reductions will allow Colorado to meet moderately ambitious EPA power plant emissions standards, which are due to be finalized in 2015.

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