A number of different groups came out this week in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the rule that will allow the agency to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. Power plants emits nearly one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and they comprise the largest contributing sector. The goal of the rule will be to reduce those emissions by 30 percent compared to 2005, by the year 2030. Republicans in Congress are hoping to block the rule. Transportation, which is the second largest sector, is already being addressed in various ways including updated fuel economy standards. These improved standards have helped to keep American cars competitive with high efficiency models from overseas. An additional rule addressing heavy duty trucks also took effect this year with impressive results.
This week, the advocacy group Ceres hosted a conference call in which they, acting as a spokesman for a wide array of companies across numerous industries, presented a letter of support for the EPA rule signed by 223 companies. They had a number of industry representatives on hand to speak out in support of government policy action on climate change. Ceres president Mindy Lubber said it well in her opening comments.
“Today’s press event affirms that companies and investors are supporting solutions to tackling climate change. More than ever before, businesses are setting ambitious goals to reduce their own energy use, lower their carbon footprint, and source more and more renewable energy. They’re achieving these goals and in so doing, they’re improving their bottom line and helping the environment. These companies also recognize that their voluntary actions alone are not enough. Lowering carbon pollution at the scale and during the time frames that are needed to avoid catastrophic temperature increases requires stronger policies. That’s why hundreds of companies have signed the Ceres climate declaration, a business led call-to-action that urges Federal and State policymakers to adopt clean energy policies that will enable companies to seize the clear economic opportunities of addressing climate change.”
Other speakers included Tim Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé Waters North America; John Gardner, Chief Sustainability Officer, Novelis Inc.; Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL); Sandy Taft, Director of U.S. Energy and Sustainability Policy, National Grid; and Donna Carpenter, Chief Executive Officer, Burton Snowboards.
John Gardner of Novalis (Aluminum) praised the plan’s flexibility in including energy efficiency (EE) as a means for power providers to reduce carbon emissions, noting that EE is, “the cleanest, cheapest, and most readily available energy resource to help states cut their carbon emissions.”
Tim Brown made an excellent point, in response to criticism that has been leveled at the plan by the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations that consider themselves pro-business, alleging that this rule will increase costs.
‘Yes, power and energy is an important input cost and may increase over the short term. But if you look over a longer time horizon, we have other input costs, like crops and water, and we see those costs potentially increasing dramatically as the result of climate change. So in looking at the sustainability of our business model long term, we think it’s important to take these measures to stabilize our input costs, and not just look at very short time horizons.”
Clean energy prices, which are already plummeting, are expect to drop below current levels over time. But more importantly, short term thinking and a failure to consider the larger picture is what got us into this problem in the first place. That kind of thinking will no longer serve us today, and in fact it is likely to do us harm.
In related news, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, a group of259 state legislators also came out in support of the rule. In a strongly worded letter the group, whose membership includes roughly 15 percent Republicans, urged even stronger action (not all members signed the letter).
“We believe the Clean Power Plan could achieve even more pollution reductions with higher renewable energy and energy efficiency goals for states, and we support EPA moving in that direction.”
The 2030 EPA targets for renewable energy generation are below what has already been enacted in 17 states. NCEL Board Chair Rep. Pricey Harrison from North Carolina calls clean energy, “an American success story,” citing the fact that, “it is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the United States and already employs 360,000 jobs in the U.S., far more than the coal industry’s 87,000 – solar alone employs 143,000 people and grew 20 percent last year.”
It is beginning to look like we are finally at or near a tipping point. Those that continue to spout wishful thinking or conspiracy theories in the face of clear scientific consensus, or those who simply refuse to act, are finding themselves outnumbered, surrounded and out-reasoned by an American public that is finally catching up with the rest of the world.
Keep in mind that this EPA action was only necessitated by the inability of Congress to act in the face of increasingly urgent news.
RP Siegel, PE, is an author, inventor and consultant. He has written for numerous publications ranging from Huffington Post to Mechanical Engineering. He and Roger Saillant co-wrote the successful eco-thriller Vapor Trails. RP, who is a regular contributor to Triple Pundit and Justmeans, sees it as his mission to help articulate and clarify the problems and challenges confronting our planet at this time, as well as the steadily emerging list of proposed solutions. His uniquely combined engineering and humanities background help to bring both global perspective and analytical detail to bear on the questions at hand.
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