Seattle, WA – Coal and gas power plants will pollute 32 percent less nationwide and clean energy sources such as solar will meet more of the state’s electricity needs, according to limits on carbon pollution finalized today that are central to President Obama’s plan to address climate change.
“The Clean Power Plan is the single biggest action the U.S. has ever taken on climate and is great news for Washington,” said Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Executive Director. “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 sets state-by-state limits on heat-trapping emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, the largest single source of such pollution in the country.
Washington is well-positioned to meet its limits with increased development of clean energy, for which it has vast potential. Environment America research shows that Washington’s current wind generation displaces enough global warming pollution per year to equal the effect of taking 689,000 cars off the road, while Washington has enough solar potential to power the entire state 21 times over.
Heat waves, low mountain snowpack, and extreme droughts are just a few of the impacts of climate change Washingtonians have already begun to experience. This spring, Olympic National Park recorded the driest spring in 100 years and only 14% of average snowpack. Scientists predict that without drastic cuts in global warming emissions, these effects will become catastrophic.
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 even 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.
Vast majorities of Washingtonians across party lines support the carbon pollution limits, according to a recent poll. More than 128,000 comments from Washingtonians were among the 8 million submitted across the country in favor of the plan.
The fossil fuel industry, however, and its allies in Congress have launched multi-pronged assault against the Clean Power Plan in the courts, state capitols, and the U.S. Senate. 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 all the Washingtonians, together with millions of Americans, who called for strong climate action,” said Speight. “With continued leadership from President Obama, support from Washington’s leaders, and backing from the public, the U.S. can help steer an international agreement to stave off the worst of the climate crisis.”
Environment Washington is a statewide, citizen based advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For more information, please visit www.environmentwashington.org.