New carbon pollution limits are major step forward on climate

Media Contacts

Environment Massachusetts

Boston – Coal and gas power plants will pollute 32 percent less nationwide and clean energy sources such as solar and offshore wind will meet more of Massachusetts’ electricity needs, under new federal limits on carbon pollution set to be finalized today as part of President Obama’s climate plan.

“The Clean Power Plan is the single biggest action the United States has ever taken on climate, and it’s great news for Massachusetts,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “Cracking down on coal and gas while ramping up wind, solar, and other clean energy sources will protect our families’ health today and ensure a safer climate for the future.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will set state-by-state limits on heat-trapping emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, the largest single source of such pollution in the country. Under the plan, each state will determine how to meet its pollution cap.

Massachusetts has often been a leader in the fight against global warming, paving the way for federal action. Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to adopt mandatory limits on carbon pollution from power plants, in 2001. Additionally, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a collaborative effort between Massachusetts and eight other northeastern states, has reduced carbon emissions while channeling hundreds of millions of dollars into clean energy and energy efficiency programs.

Massachusetts is well positioned to meet the Clean Power Plan’s carbon limits with increased development of clean energy. Within the next ten years, Massachusetts can install enough solar energy capacity to reduce carbon pollution by the equivalent of the emissions from 1.2 million cars.

Scientists predict that without rapid cuts in carbon emissions, extreme weather events like last winter’s snowstorms will become more frequent and more severe. Since 1948, extreme snowstorms and rainstorms have become 85% more frequent in New England.

The Clean Power Plan is also expected to bring public health benefits, since cutting power plant pollution also reduces soot, smog, and other harmful pollutants that are responsible for respiratory illness and premature deaths. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the Clean Power Plan will save as many as 6,600 lives and prevent up to 150,000 asthma attacks each year.

The fossil fuel industry and its allies in Congress have launched a multi-pronged assault against the Clean Power Plan in the courts, state capitols, and Congress. The plan’s survival against these attacks is considered critical to U.S. leadership at international climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.

“Today’s action is thanks to millions of Americans who called for strong climate action,” said Hellerstein. “With continued leadership from President Obama, support from Massachusetts’ officials, and backing from the public, the United States can help forge an international agreement to stave off the worst impacts of global warming.”


Environment Massachusetts is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.