EPA proposes first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants

Media Contacts

Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center

Trenton – This morning, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first-ever, federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the largest single source of global warming pollution in America. The proposal would reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. 

Environment New Jersey enthusiastically applauded the proposed limits, which once finalized will be the largest step the U.S. has taken to combat global warming.

“This historic proposal is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “This is America’s chance to lead and finally act to crack down on global warming pollution from power plants.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recently underscored the critical need for bold and swift climate action on the Showtime Series Years of Living Dangerously: “We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.” [1]  

“We have a moral obligation to do what we can to combat climate change and I applaud today’s announcement that our country will take a bold, much-needed step in the right direction,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). “The new power plant rules allow for flexibility in reducing carbon emissions state-by-state and I look forward to living in a cleaner, greener New Jersey. This Administrative action moves us away from unnecessary partisan bickering and nonsensical climate denying – and puts us on a path forward that will improve our environment, public health and our energy future.”

Across the country Americans have felt the consequences of global warming. In 2011 and 2012, the number of heat waves was nearly triple the long-term average. In the Northeast and Midwest, extreme precipitation events have increased by 30 percent. Here in New Jersey, extreme downpours and superstorms like Hurricane Sandy are devastating our communities and threatening public safety, in addition to rising sea levels. 

“Virtually every scientist agrees:  Our climate is changing, largely as a result of human activities, and failing to act would leave a moral stain on our generation,” said Congressman Rush Holt (D-12). “Organized, well-funded special interests will fight this.  Our adversary is not simply inefficiency in power plants, but corporations who would put their financial interests ahead of children’s freedom from asthma attacks and the millions of lives at risk from climate change.”

The National Climate Assessment, released in May, recognized today’s impacts with the statement, “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.”[2]

Until now, there have been no federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution power plants are permitted to spew into the atmosphere.  

“This announcement is a huge win for the health of our families and our environment,” said O’Malley.

“It is in large part a testament to the millions of Americans, more than 600 local elected officials, and hundreds of small businesses who have already demanded the cutting of carbon pollution. And it fulfills the promise President Obama made nearly a year ago to act to combat global warming pollution from power plants.”

“The dirty energy companies that oppose this move may question the science and predict economic apocalypse if we act. They can make up whatever claims they want. But a cleaner, more energy-efficient economy and environment is not going to undermine our prosperity. In fact, our kids’ future depends on it. ” 

The EPA requirements will ensure that every state needs to take action to reduce global warming pollution. More details on the building blocks the EPA outlines on achieving reductions is below: http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-05/documents/20140602fs-setting-goals.pdf

The EPA will accept public comment on the proposed rule for 120 days after it’s published in the Federal Register, and EPA has said it will plan to develop a final standard by June 2015, with state implementation plans due by June 2016.


[1] http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/story/the-governor/

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/07/science/earth/climate-change-report.html