Support from Across the Country as the Clean Power Plan Comment Period Comes to a Close

Black bears are one of the many species impacted by climate change who will benefit from a strong Clean Power Plan. Photo credit: Garry Tucker/USFWS Southeast/Flickr Creative Commons
The comment deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) came to a close yesterday, December 1st. The Clean Power Plan will set first ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, ultimately achieving a 30% reduction in power plant carbon pollution by 2030. These limits are needed to protect America’s wildlife, communities, and public health from the worst impacts of climate change.

The CPP sets individual targets for each state to meet, then allows states flexibility in how to reach those targets. States are expected to create a state implementation plan (SIP) by June of 2016 to achieve these goals. Ultimately, the states will play a large and important role in the rule’s success. Thus, it is important to point out some of the strong support that the rule has had from the states and NWF’s state affiliates.

NWF Affiliate and Member Support

Just under 90,000 NWF members and supporters submitted comments in support of the plan! NWF and 30 of our affiliate organizations have also submitted comments that include general support of the proposal, the benefits to wildlife of acting on carbon pollution, a sentiment that the standards should be strengthened to better protect wildlife and communities, and that there is especially room for improvement in wildlife-friendly renewable energy targets. The affiliates include: Arkansas Wildlife Federation, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Connecticut Forest & Park Association, Conservation Council for Hawai’i, Delaware Nature Society, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Environment Council of Rhode Island, Florida Wildlife Federation, Iowa Wildlife Federation, Kansas Wildlife Federation, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Montana Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Nevada Wildlife Federation, New Hampshire Audubon, New Jersey Audubon Society, New Mexico Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Planning and Conservation League, Prairie Rivers Network, Renewable Resources Coalition, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, Texas Conservation Alliance, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Virginia Conservation Network, West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

RGGI State Support

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has been a successful example of a power sector emissions reduction program between nine northeastern states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rohde Island and Vermont. This initiative has been able to both reduce carbon emissions and raise money for energy efficiency and renewable energy. One of the options for compliance with the CPP is the creation of multi-state plans, to share the benefits and burdens of cutting greenhouse gas pollution with nearby states. RGGI provides a good example of this.

A strong CPP can help advance clean, wildlife-friendly energy sources, such as offshore wind (photo credit: London Array)
A strong CPP can help advance clean, wildlife-friendly energy sources, such as offshore wind (photo credit: London Array)
Energy, utility, and environmental agencies from these states have all signed on to two letters of support for the EPA’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution generally and for the CPP specifically, one in December 2013 and one November 5th, 2014. Both letters applaud the commitment of the EPA in tackling the reduction of carbon emissions and setting the nation on a clear path towards renewable energy and catalyzed innovation. They also cite the success that the group has had in reducing emissions 40% below 2005 levels in the region, while the regional economy has grown by seven percent – supporting their position that more substantial reductions can be made nationwide. Specifically, the letter states: “While the CPP will set the nation on a clear path toward achieving significant CO2 emission reductions from our largest source sector, the RGGI experience has demonstrated that additional cost-effective reductions are possible.”

And although November’s elections were disappointing for many pro-climate action candidates, RGGI states still came out as winners. Both republican Governor-elects Larry Hogan (MD) and Charlie Baker (MA) intend on continuing their states’ participation in RGGI. In an interview, Baker noted that he “support[s] the current carbon cutting goals” and would “work to provide market-based incentives for further reduction of greenhouse gas initiatives.” Additionally, with the recent election of Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania, it may be possible that this state would choose to join RGGI. During his campaign, Tom Wolf stated: “I want to be part of any compact that’s trying to make our air cleaner, and I think RGGI tries to do that.”

Positive Comments from Other States

  • Climate change impacts many cold water fish including the lake sturgeon and other iconic Great Lakes species (photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Will Thomas)
    Climate change impacts many cold water fish including the lake sturgeon and other iconic Great Lakes species (photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Will Thomas)
    Minnesota: A letter of support was sent to the EPA from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in September 2014. The letter states: “The proposed rule addresses the critical need for carbon regulations to protect citizens, the environment and further development of a clean energy economy. Minnesota is proof that aggressive carbon emissions reductions from the power sector can be achieved while growing the economy, and we look forward to being a leader among states in addressing the requirements of the final Clean Power Plan.”   Additionally, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is supportive of the rule and has previously expressed wanting to eliminate coal from the states’ energy portfolio.
  • Montana: While at a meeting this June on the CPP proposal with EPA administrator Gena McCarthy, Governor Steve Bullock said “In Montana, whether you’re a farmer, whether you’re a fisherman … you know that the climate is changing and we need to do something about it.” Governor Bullock also directed the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to analyze how the state could comply with the CPP. The white paper includes many possible scenarios, but importantly all of the scenarios “strongly suggest that it would be possible to create new jobs and additional tax revenue.”
  • Virginia: The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality submitted comments supporting “a carbon rule that achieves meaningful reduction of CO2 emissions” on November 15th. Governor McAuliffe released the following statement about the comments and the Clean Power Plan: “I agree with the Clean Power Plan’s goal of reducing carbon emissions in order to combat the threat of global warming, and I intend to continue Virginia’s position as a leader on this important issue. There is no question that our Commonwealth can play a leading role in energy conservation and efficiency and expand renewable generation so that we can cut carbon and create jobs along the way.” Governor McAuliffe also recently released the 2014 Virginia Energy plan which pursues energy efficiency and promotion of renewable energy.
  • Maryland: In addition to the environmental and energy agencies signing on to the RGGI comments, state legislators Jim Rosapepe, Verna Jones-Rodwell, and Richard Madaleno wrote letters of support to President Obama and the EPA noting that the CPP is “an essential step forward on the path to reducing carbon pollution and shifting to clean energy” and that “the action couldn’t come soon enough” because of the dramatic impacts that climate change is having in the state.
  • Colorado: At the same meeting, Governor Hickenlooper noted that Colorado is moving to diversify its energy portfolio. And on the day EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan, Governor Hickenlooper took to Twitter to tout Colorado’s early action to cut carbon pollution.
  • Nevada: Though republican Governor Sandoval considers himself “unqualified” to answer questions on climate change, in June he stated: “I think Nevada’s gone a long way to work toward a goal of cleaner and more efficient production of energy,” and that Nevada is “a leader nationally, in terms of being able to meet … new EPA standards that were just issued. And we did this before they were even announced publicly.”
  • A joint letter from environmental and energy agency leaders, and public utility commissioners from 14 states was submitted December 1st 2014 (a similar letter which included Colorado was submitted December of last year). This letter expresses strong support of EPA’s commitment to tackle carbon emissions from existing power plants. There are signatories from states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Take ActionNow that the comment deadline has passed for the Clean Power Plan, speak out against attacks on the EPA’s historic effort to curb carbon pollution!