May 10, 2023
For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to issue its rules for limiting CO2 emissions for existing U.S. power plants, which produce about 25 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas pollution. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget is reviewing and adjusting the proposal before it is officially introduced.
The proposed rule would require almost all existing and future coal and gas-fired power plants to cut or capture nearly 100 percent of their CO2 emissions by 2040.
If implemented, the regulations — combined with President Biden’s plans to speed up the transition to electric vehicles, curb methane leaks from oil and gas wells, and energize the economy with the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA’s) investment of $370 billion into clean energy — would significantly reduce U.S. emissions and put the country on track to meet President Biden’s pledge to cut the country’s emissions in half by 2030 and to reach net zero by 2050.
Elected Officials to Protect America’s (EOPA’s) included these measures, along with others, in its Climate Emergency Plan, that over 1,050 elected officials from across the country have signed onto with an online letter to the President and Congress.
“Since the creation of our Climate Emergency Plan, Elected Officials to Protect America has helped herald the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Law into being. But these measures alone won’t achieve the U.N. climate goals we need in order to hold back devastating climate crisis storms, drought and fires that are projected, which would result in millions of displaced people and spur conflict. This is a national security threat. The EPA needs to enact the strongest power plant CO2 emission standards without delay,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine state Representative, Marine combat veteran, President of the Elected Officials to Protect America, and Co-Founder.
The following are quotes from EOPA elected officials from across the country urging the most stringent protections from the EPA for power plant CO2 emissions:
“For decades our environmental justice communities have been subjected to the worst pollution New Mexico produces. This impacts the cognitive abilities of children and worst of all their health, leading to lifelong lung issues, or worse cancer. A report, Climate, Health, and Equity Implications of Large Facility Pollution Sources in New Mexico, found that power plants, gas processing plants and compressor stations, mines, and other stationary facilities contribute approximately one quarter of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. And the communities most impacted are our lower-income, and have high populations of people of color, our environmental justice zones,” said Debbie Sariñana, New Mexico State Representative Air Force Veteran, EOPA National Leadership Council Chair, former school teacher. “Enough is enough. As an Air Force veteran, former school teacher and state representative, I say, enough is enough. It’s time the EPA brings justice to our state and helps our communities who need it the most. It is incumbent upon the EPA to enact the strongest power plant rules.”
“Over the last two decades, Pennsylvania’s power generating sector has reflected a shift from coal to natural gas-burning generators, which now account for over half of all electricity generated in the Commonwealth. While air quality has improved as a result, natural gas generators still emit massive amounts of carbon pollution. Because Pennsylvania is the third largest producer of electricity in the U.S., federal policies are critical. We need stricter rules across Pennsylvania, and nationally, to ensure that all greenhouse gasses (GHGs) emitted from our energy sector are either captured, or replaced with truly environmentally-friendly generation sources,” said Joel Hicks, Pennsylvania, Carlisle Borough Councilmember, Elected Officials to Protect America Leadership Council. “The EPA’s proposed rule for existing generators is critical in ensuring we meet our nation’s goal of 50 percent GHG reductions by 2030 and decarbonization of the electric grid by 2035. The administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provide subsidies to assist in making sure we stay on track. Pennsylvania will benefit from this rule, adding jobs and ensuring our great nation continues to innovate and not stagnate in our effort to limit the effects of climate change.”
“Exposure to pollution emanating from power plants is linked to chronic conditions, including asthma, heart disease, COPD, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, low birth weight, greater risk of preterm birth, and higher rates of infant mortality and death. It disproportionately impacts historically underserved communities like those I represent. It’s time we bring environmental justice to these communities,” said Howard Watts, Nevada Assemblyman, Elected Officials to Protect America Leadership Council. “President Biden can meet his commitment to a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 in part by ensuring the strongest EPA standards for coal and gas fired power plants happen. We have to cut carbon pollution, protect our children and families, and remove toxins from our air and water now.”
“In 2020 the total emissions from Michigan’s top 10 power plants were recorded at 38.9 million metric tons, which is equivalent to 8.4 million cars on the road for a year. While I’m proud to see our car companies producing more electric vehicles, our power plants are fueled by fossil fuels and continue to release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, which speeds up the climate crisis and harms environmental justice communities disproportionately the most,” said Allen Park City Councilmember Gary Schlack, Michigan, Army Veteran. “Global warming contributes to conflicts around the world. This is a national security threat. The EPA must enact the strongest possible limits on carbon dioxide pollution from all new and existing power plants for our health, and security. This must be accomplished without penalizing the salaries of the hard-working operators that work in our power plants.”
“Dirty power plants seriously threaten our health and the climate, yet these super-polluters have filled our skies with toxins for decades without consequence. The food we grow, the air we breathe continues to cause illnesses like asthma, heart disease, lung issues and cancers. It disproportionately impacts underserved communities like those I represent. In 2020, the 10 most climate-polluting plants in Georgia were responsible for 91.5 percent of global warming emissions from the power sector despite only generating 56.5 percent of total electricity,” said Park Cannon, Georgia State Representative, Elected Officials to Protect America Leadership Council. “We must hold power plants accountable for damaging our health and climate. I urge the EPA to enact the strongest regulations possible to curb CO2 emissions from power plants.”
“Maine is often referred to as the tailpipe of America. We need the strongest regulations the EPA can provide to better health outcomes of all Mainers, many of whom suffer from asthma, and other chronic diseases due to pollution coming from out-of-state power plants. The proposed rule would require almost all existing and future coal and gas-fired power plants to cut or capture nearly 100 percent of their CO2 emissions by 2040. Its time has come,” said Maine State Senator Joseph Baldacci, Elected Officials to Protect America Leadership Council
“Extreme heat – fueled by greenhouse emissions and climate change – kill too many of our residents every year, particularly residents who are unhoused or live in communities that suffer disproportionately from pollution. Power plants are leading culprits in burning fossil fuels, and Phoenix is home to 3 of the top 100 most polluting power plants in the U.S. In 2020 the total emissions from our top 10 power plants were recorded at 30 million metric tons, which is equivalent to 6.5 million cars on the road for a year,” said Yassamin Ansari, Phoenix, Arizona Vice Mayor, Elected Officials to Protect America Leadership Council. “The EPA must require almost all existing and future coal and gas-fired power plants to cut or capture 100 percent of their CO2 emissions. America needs the strongest EPA regulations possible to curb emissions from these power plants.”
“Last year fellow legislators and public health officials called on the EPA to reduce air and water pollution from the Apache Generating Station in Cochise County which uses coal and natural gas. The Station had committed 41 Clean Air Act violations over five years and daily water usage measured 1.6 million gallons. People are suffering from respiratory illnesses because of dirty power plants, and with Arizona’s drought condition we can’t afford fossil fuel power plants misusing this precious resource,” said Arizona State Representative Richard Andrade, Air Force veteran. “In 2020, Arizona’s top 10 most climate-polluting plants were responsible for 82.6 percent of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from the power sector despite only generating 45.3 percent of total electricity. As a veteran, I know the climate crisis has caused instability and wars. We need to stop greenhouse gas pollution that continues to fuel climate change. This is a national security issue. The EPA should enact the strongest possible limits on carbon dioxide pollution from new and existing power plants.”
Elected Officials to Protect America: EOPA is a network of thousands of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.