“There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change,” said President Obama when he announced his action plan for climate change on August 3. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) details the goals expected to be realized by 2020 to 2030. The President said the plan was “the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change” and one that “sets the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants.” The plan is buttressed by the Clean Air Act, where the US Environmental Protection Agency “must regulate any pollutant that is deemed a danger to human health and wellbeing.” The EPA found that copious amounts of carbon dioxide qualified as a dangerous pollutant, a finding upheld by the Supreme Court. CPP intends to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, reducing emissions by a total of 870 million metric tons. By 2030, the health benefits projected by the plan are: 3,600 premature deaths prevented as well as 1,700 non-fatal heart attacks. Asthma attacks in children will be reduced by 90,000 and health in general will be improved, lowering the amount of missed workdays and schooldays by 300,000
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has written on her blog that “the Clean Power Plan is projected to cut the average American’s monthly electricity bill by 7% in 2030.” She claims electricity won’t necessarily be cheaper but she foresees Americans using less energy because of the energy efficiency mandates that are part of CPP. Before 2030, EPA projections show electricity prices will rise modestly by 2.4 to 2.7 percent in 2020, but then decline by 2.7 to 3.8 percent in 2025, and by 7 to 7.7 percent in 2030 when the average American family is expected to save about $7 per month and more than $80 per year on their electricity bill. In 2030, the reduced energy usage is expected to power 30 million homes, and save consumers a total of $155 billion from 2020-2030, according to the Whitehouse CPP fact sheet.
The plan has provoked Republican opponents in Congress such as Senator Mitch McConnell, (R – Kentucky) who has pushed for all states with coal-fired power plants coal to fight the required plan. The CPP will also face court battles where these same states will argue that the plan unconstitutionally takes away states’ rights. Also, the new president will have the authority to delay or annul the plan. CPP should, however, have a positive impact on the upcoming COP21 in Paris, December, 2015, where 195 countries will converge to solidify a global agreement for climate change.