Analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can achieve substantially deeper cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than it has proposed by requiring even more stringent energy-efficiency measures and increased renewable power generation capacity.
Such improvements would deliver major savings for consumers on utility bills, trigger a boom in clean energy jobs and reduce power plant carbon pollution by more than 40%, the environmental advocacy group says. This would surpass the ‘30% by 2030’ goal President Obama outlined when the EPA first proposed its Clean Power Plan last June.
The comments come on the deadline the EPA has announced for receipt of public input on its plan. The final version of the plan is due by June 2015.
‘The president's plan is a vital step toward protecting future generations from the dangers of climate change, and the administration can make this good plan even better,’ says David Doniger, director of the NRDC's climate and clean air program and a contributing author of the nonprofit's comments. ‘Let's recognize the full potential for cutting dangerous carbon pollution by investing more in energy efficiency and renewable power. We'll get more with less, save people money on their electric bills, and put people back to work building and installing clean energy systems for tomorrow.’
The NRDC comments claim that prices for energy efficiency investments and renewable power costs are substantially lower than the EPA assumed in its analysis, and their performance is continually improving. Specifically, the cost of installing solar panels on homes has fallen 46% since 2010, the NRDC says, and similar price drops are being seen in wind power. Those two sources accounted for 44% of all the new electricity generating capacity installed in 2012 and 2013, federal data shows.
Citing its analysis, the NRDC says the EPA has underestimated the potential for renewable generation in 2020 by at least 60% because the agency's analysis did not fully capture the recent price reductions for getting power from the wind and sun. Similarly, the EPA's projections underestimate what's possible through energy efficiency.
‘Clearly, with more efficiency and more renewable power, there's room for the EPA to readily cut power plant carbon pollution by more than 40 percent in 2030, compared to 2005 levels,’ Doniger says. ‘We should commit to at least that much of a cut in this dangerous carbon pollution and demonstrate with actions, not words, that we're serious about protecting future generations from the dangers of climate change.’
An executive summary of the NRDC's comments on the EPA's Clean Power Plan is available here.