This morning, the Obama administration put forward the first-ever plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. Cutting carbon emissions will help prevent up to 6,500 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks among children. It will also reduce electricity bills by approximately 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system, while creating tens of thousands of jobs across the country. We have set limits for arsenic, mercury, and lead pollution, but we let power plants emit as much carbon pollution as they want – until today.
For decades, state, city, county, and tribal leaders have led the way in reducing pollution, making our communities healthier and cleaner. This carbon pollution standard proposal puts tools in the hands of each state – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. Governors will have flexibility to meet the proposed standards using the energy sources that work best for each state.
And let’s remember that the idea of setting higher standards to cut carbon pollution isn’t new. 47 states have utilities that run demand-side energy efficiency programs, 38 have renewable portfolio standards or goals, and 10 have market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs. More than 1,000 mayors have signed a climate protection agreement. And county and tribal leaders are on the front lines dealing with climate impacts every day.
As co-chairs of the President’s bipartisan State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, we have had the chance to travel to regions throughout the country. The community leaders we’ve met with are not consumed by Washington ideological debates; they want to discuss how they are dealing with the floods, fires, droughts, and super storms that are putting the health and well-being of their communities at stake. And in addition to dealing with the existing impacts of climate change, these elected leaders are taking bold action to reduce the carbon pollution that is causing climate change.
Here are some of the excellent examples of Task Force members who are leading actions that are making a difference for people in a very tangible way:
- Greensburg, Kansas Mayor Bob Dixson rebuilt his town in a more sustainable and energy efficient fashion after a tornado devastated his community, and today Greensburg is a model for other towns in a similar situation.
- In Carmel, Indiana, Mayor James Brainard has improved safety and cut emissions by building hundreds of traffic roundabouts.
- In Salt Lake City, Mayor Ralph Becker has launched a competition to improve the efficiency of buildings to drive down pollution and save businesses money.
- Broward County, Florida Commissioner Kristin Jacobs co-led efforts with Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties to create the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, a regional effort to coordinate mitigation and adaptation plans across county lines.
- California Governor Jerry Brown, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee have joined together to rein in greenhouse gases on the West Coast, and governors in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have created regional systems that reduce carbon emissions while creating jobs and economic growth.
- As a result of the leadership of Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois leads the nation in number of communities with renewable energy.
- Tribal leader Karen Diver, of the Fond du Lac Tribe of Minnesota, has led the way on conservation and energy efficiency efforts.
These state-by-state fact sheets help to detail the progress that has already been led by hundreds of state, local, and tribal leaders throughout our nation. The President’s Climate Action Plan builds on this great progress, and today’s announcement to reduce carbon pollution from power plants is a step toward a cleaner and healthier United States of America.
To learn more about President Obama’s plan to flight climate change, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change.