Jul 25 2016

What’s the deal with the Clean Power Plan?

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U.S. Supreme Court Building. (chinesejudge, 2005, Flickr)

Opposition to President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) has rung loud and clear across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay earlier this year after criticism was voiced from 29 states, putting the plan in a stand still. Though the CPP has hit many roadblocks, the current resistance may not be indicative of how the plan will play out.

The CPP is President Obama’s second attempt to put climate policy in action, after the American Clean Energy and Security Act failed to pass both houses of Congress in 2009. The main feature of the CPP is to implement performance standards for power plants to reduce emissions. Though this is a federal policy, it gives the states the ability to design their own plan to comply with the standards based on unique energy mixes — so, why all the backlash?stock-photo-1627655-coal-pile-and-pollution

Coal-fired power plant. (iStock, 2006)

Three words — money, jobs, and legality. The CPP is the unpopular because it is a very expensive plan. The estimated cost is somewhere between $7.3 and $8.8 billion. Many states would have to close down numerous coal plants to achieve emission reductions, leaving thousands of people without work. The stay on the CPP was issued in response to allegations that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is going outside of its authority in trying to regulate state carbon emissions.

The Supreme Court’s stay blocks the use of public funding for any work related to the CPP, and many state representatives have further stagnated the process. But, representatives like Governor Matt Mead from Wyoming may be saying one thing and doing another.

The New York Times article Fighting Obama’s Climate Plan, but Quietly Preparing to Comply illuminates the hoops that some Republican representatives are going through to appear opposed to Obama’s plan, all while secretly planning to adhere to CPP regulations. Some state representatives are even preparing energy and carbon plans under the guise of different legislation.

Democratic representatives in favor of the CPP are using available resources to continue plans to cut carbon emissions. Many Democrats are showing little concern over the opposition to the CPP, as they have seen similar antics from climate change deniers time and time again. However, some of these same folks are criticizing the CPP for not doing enough in the way of public health — especially in light of the Flint, Michigan water disaster.

Representatives, democratic or republican, are wise to be considering a future where the CPP is a reality — come November, there’s a 50/50 chance of a new administration that supports carbon policies. Last year, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced a $30 million plan to revitalize and protect coal communities in the U.S.


Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (kansieo, 2008, Flickr)

Clinton’s plan would provide competitive grants for people with innovative plans for community growth, funding for schools and educational programs, and ensure the benefits of coal miners who loose their jobs. The plan may not be perfect and is dependent on her election, of course. But it is a hopeful sign that people on both sides of the aisle are paying attention.

The CPP could be fundamental in moving the nation towards cleaner renewable energy. If executed carefully, it could also be a means of economic development and growth in struggling communities. The fate of the CPP is unknown, but it seems that clean air has finally become a bi-partisan priority.

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