The Obama administration on Monday released its finalized Clean Power Plan, which looks slash carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants.
The Environmental Protection Agency's plan, the first version of which was issued in June 2014, calls for cutting carbon emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. That goal is greater than the 30 percent carbon-reduction target outlined in the initial Clean Power Plan proposal.
States, which are given flexibility under the EPA's regulations to meet carbon standards, also have two additional years to comply with the rules. The new compliance year for states is 2022, up from 2020.
The plan's critics argue in part that it will negatively impact the economy, energy reliability and consumers because electricity prices could increase.
President Barack Obama, who called the Clean Power Plan regulations the "single most important step America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change," pushed back against those claims.
"We've heard these stale arguments before," Obama stated. "Every time America's made progress, it's been despite these claims. Whenever America sets clear rules or smarter standards ... we get the same scary stories for killing jobs and businesses and freedom."
Reaction to the finalized Clean Power Plan has been pouring in from local environmentalists, elected officials and others.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL,9) issued these remarks via a statement:
Climate change is one of the most serious challenges we face at home and around the world. Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have occurred in this century, and we're on pace to set a new all-time record this year. The National Climate Assessment showed that without major intervention, oceans will rise as much as four feet, water shortages will increase rapidly, and our hottest days could be more than 10 degrees hotter than they are today. Food will become more scarce and more expensive, and global conflict will rise. This is a crisis we can't wait to address.
President Obama, EPA Administrator McCarthy, and the entire Administration have made addressing climate change a top priority, and today's final rule is a critical moment in those efforts. For the first time in our history, there will be restrictions on emissions from power plants - which are responsible for almost one-third of all U.S. carbon emissions. The rule provides flexibility for states and businesses as they meet its requirements, keeping energy affordable and available for consumers. It will protect our environment, improve public health and cut energy bills. In fact, the plan will save each American family nearly $85 a year in 2030 and collectively the plan will save consumers $155 billion from 2020 to 2030.
I strongly support this final rule, and I will work to prevent any Congressional effort to undermine it.
Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club's Illinois chapter, issued this comment:
The Clean Power Plan is the most significant single action any president has ever taken to tackle the most serious threat to the health of our families: the climate crisis.
Today marks a new era of growth for affordable and safe clean energy sources that don't fuel climate disruption and sicken our communities. It is a step towards improving the quality of life for low income neighborhoods and communities of color, which have disproportionately borne the brunt of power plant pollution in Illinois for decades. It is an opportunity to protect what we treasure most here in Illinois; from Lake Michigan to our state's vital farmland.
We know we can meet these goals for reducing carbon pollution in Illinois because we've already started. Since Illinois started adding wind and solar to our power grid, and investing in energy conservation, we've created over 100,000 jobs in clean energy, saved consumers over $1 billion on their electric bills and reduced the emissions that threaten our health and our climate. With a strong state Clean Power Plan, we can build on that success to create good jobs where we need them most, protect ratepayers, and clean the air we breathe. The Illinois Clean Jobs bill is the best way to bring Illinois a clean energy future by ramping up renewable energy like wind and solar to 35 percent by 2030 and cutting energy use through efficiency by 20 percent by 2025. These efforts will save consumers money while bringing clean energy investment to new communities to strengthen local tax bases and create family-sustaining jobs.
We are especially proud that a president from Illinois is leading America to confront the climate crisis, and seize these opportunities. With so much at stake, it's time to come together to build solutions to ensure that no Illinois community is left behind as we shift to a clean energy economy. As we work to build a better future for our children and grandchildren, these efforts must include ensuring good jobs and economic vitality in diverse Illinois communities so families can grow and thrive.
We stand ready and eager to work together on a Clean Power Plan for Illinois that delivers the better future we all want for our families and our future.
Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), also made note of the Illinois Clean Jobs bill in his statement applauding the Clean Power Plan:
The Clean Power Plan is the single biggest action our nation has ever taken on climate and is great news for Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly and Governor Rauner can jump start strong state implementation of the Clean Power Plan by passing the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Bill, which will save consumers money, protect our families' health, and ensure a safer climate for the future.
Vast majorities of Illinoisans across party lines support the carbon pollution limits, according to a recent poll. More than 172,000 comments from Illinoisans were among the 8 million submitted across the country to the EPA in favor of the plan.
Today's action is thanks to all the Illinoisans, together with millions of Americans, who called for strong climate action. Decision makers in Springfield can now demonstrate leadership by passing the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill.
State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) is spearheading the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill in the Senate. He had this to say after today's release of the finalized Clean Power Plan:
The momentum has been on our side all along, as seen in the long list of co-sponsors who see the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill as our best chance to foster innovation, competition and private investment, and to deliver economic benefits across the state. The president's plan only adds to the logic of passing this bill and doing it now, so Illinois can attract new capital and new jobs, and customers can begin to see big savings.