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Stakeholders Applaud Biggest U.S.' Carbon Emission-Reduction Measure in History

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final version of its Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon emissions from power plants — the single largest source of U.S. global warming pollution.

In the final rule, EPA strengthened the overall 2030 emissions reduction goal (from 30 to 32 percent below 2005 levels), greatly expanded the role for renewable energy in cutting emissions, and established an interstate trading program for states that want to avail of that option as a practical, cost-effective way to lower carbon pollution.

While over 300 U.S.-based companies and investors vocally expressed their support for the Plan in a series of letters to 29 governors across the country before the final rule last week, a variety of NGOs and industry groups have been eager to weigh in on the final plan, along with what they feel are critical next steps for the U.S. and other countries ...

"President Obama's bold vision for a low-carbon future is leaving David Cameron's U-turn on clean energy looking even more parochial and small-minded," said Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven. "Whilst Obama is ready to defy internal opposition to push through a plan that's good for jobs, the economy, and the climate, Cameron is ready to sacrifice all these gains just to appease a few wind farm-hating backbenchers. Whilst Obama's energy plan will boost his moral authority ahead of the Paris climate summit, Cameron's disastrous energy policy will only weaken Britain's clout in the most important climate negotiations for a decade."

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“The Clean Power Plan provides us with our best shot to meet our international climate goals and lead the rest of the world towards a strong international climate agreement. This will also be a catalyst for a clean energy economy at home that will benefit all states through a more diverse energy supply, cleaner air and home grown job growth,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “We are pleased the facts about cost-effective carbon reductions won out, as evidenced by the increased role for renewables in the plan. UCS has said all along that rapid growth in renewables is feasible and affordable, a fact that is supported by the shift to a clean energy economy already underway.

“We also note that the final rule wisely includes measures — such as early action credits for investments in renewable energy and an extended initial compliance date — to limit the risks of a rush to gas. Natural gas is still a fossil fuel, with risks of methane leakage in its production and distribution, therefore a large-scale shift to natural gas will make it more difficult for the United States to make the deeper emission reductions needed by mid-century. The rule also takes significant steps to help low-income communities cut their energy bills and join in the benefits of a transition to a low-carbon economy.

“As the responsibility now shifts to states to implement this rule, the Union of Concerned Scientists will work to make sure states take early action to invest in and prioritize renewables and efficiency — the best solutions to our growing climate crisis — in complying with this rule, and avoid an overreliance on natural gas.”

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"The Clean Power Plan rule will help assure cleaner air for asthma and allergy patients now and in the future," said Cary Sennett, MD, PhD, President and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. "Air pollution can cause and worsen chronic and life-threatening conditions such as asthma and allergies. Children, the elderly, people with lung disease, and people who are active or work outdoors are most vulnerable. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and Congress to improve the lives of people with asthma and allergies.”

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Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said: “SEIA has spent the past several years meeting with EPA officials and educating them on the growth potential for solar and its ability to help states meet their carbon reduction goals. Over the last five years, the solar industry has been one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. We will continue to expand production and lower costs to meet the increased demand from states under the Clean Power Plan, which means solid, well-paying jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

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“The Latino community has been nearly unanimous in its desire for strong government action to fight climate change and today we celebrate President Obama's announcement of the finalClean Power Plan which represents the largest investment in fighting climate change ever made by any President of the United States," read a statement from Green Latinos, a national non-profit organization committed to addressing national, regional and local environmental, natural resources and conservation issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States. The long-awaited required reduction in carbon pollution from power plants will also serve to reduce dangerous air pollutants that cause and exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and disproportionately impact the Latino community. The Clean Power Plan will protect public health while reducing our electricity bills and increasing good jobs through investment in renewable clean energy and efficiency."

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“The Clean Power Plan is an important step in reducing carbon emissions and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Now begins the critical work of developing state-based plans that can create and secure quality family-sustaining jobs, provide opportunities for disproportionately impacted communities, and encourage investment and economic growth,” said Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a national partnership of America’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations. “Across our partnership, we are fully committed to working on the ground to find common sense solutions and secure opportunities for economic growth. States that reject the opportunity to develop a State Implementation Plan — triggering a federally imposed plan — will miss out on an important and critical opportunity to shape a plan that meets their needs. State and federal lawmakers must allow the process to work and, alongside workers and communities, help to ensure the development of a successful state plan."

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