Obama’s Clean Power Plan reaction: A strong stance on climate change

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US President Barack Obama and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy released details of the Clean Power Plan — a set of measures designed to reduce CO2 emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. The final rules also include a target for 28% of the country's electricity to come from renewables by 2030.

As expected, many individuals associated with clean energy praised the new plan, while others raised their qualms about the initiative:

Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute:

“The Clean Power Plan should reassure international partners that the US Administration is determined to deliver the 26-28% emissions reductions promised for 2025. Our analysis suggests that this rule can be implemented without technical or financial impediment, and in a manner that is likely to promote more, not less, economic prosperity.”

Sam Adams, director, US Climate Initiative, World Resources Institute:

“For the first time ever, existing power plants have a legal responsibility to limit harmful carbon pollution. This plan gives states plenty of flexibility to adopt more renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. This common-sense and long-overdue step will drive technological innovation, avoid local air pollution and help our country lead on climate change. Based on feedback in the comment period, the EPA has added even more incentives and credits for states to comply early.

“Important government actions are always subject to intense debate, but we should remember that the Clean Air Act is a long-standing law in the United States that has stood the test of time through many administrations.”

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):

“Solar energy is the most sensible compliance option for states under the Clean Power Plan. Solar works in all 50 states, has zero carbon emissions, creates more jobs per megawatt (MW) than any other technology, and can be deployed cost-effectively and quickly – all while improving grid reliability.

“Just look at the facts: Today, solar energy is the fastest-growing source of energy in America and there’s a reason. States want clean, reliable and affordable energy and in today’s market, that is solar. This growth has allowed the United States to create more than 150,000 new solar jobs in the last decade alone. By the end of 2016, there will be enough solar energy in the US to power 8 million homes, offsetting nearly 45 million metric tons of carbon emissions.”

Resch added: “As a nation, it is time to replace our aging, dirty energy infrastructure with clean, reliable 21st century energy technologies, like solar. And as an industry, we look forward to solar helping states achieve an optimal long-term strategy for their economy and environment.”

Lynn Good, president and CEO of Duke Energy:

“This ambitious plan seeks to build on the substantial progress Duke Energy and other utilities have made to reduce our environmental footprint. Even without federal regulations, our company has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from our power plants by 22% since 2005.

“As we continue to move to a lower carbon future, we will also continue to work constructively with states to identify customer solutions that preserve the reliability and affordability that our communities expect. As we continue to modernize our system, energy diversity will be important – nuclear, natural gas, state-of-the-art coal, hydro, renewables, energy efficiency and energy storage.”

Julia Hamm, president and CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA):

“The Solar Electric Power Association works daily with utilities across the country that are responding to their customers’ desire for cleaner, reliable, affordable power with new solar programs and business models. SEPA’s annual utility solar rankings show that last year alone, US utilities helped put more than 182,000 new solar installations on line, totaling 5.3 gigawatts of clean, renewable power.

“The many and multifaceted changes now underway in the US power sector are being driven by a combination of technology, market forces and smart, regional regulation. We see President Obama’s Clean Power Plan as another piece of this bigger picture, in which utilities will have leading roles in ongoing innovation, collaboration and regional solutions. We stand ready to work with utilities, policy makers, the solar industry and other stakeholders as they face the challenges and opportunities of implementing the long-term vision we all share of a clean, reliable and affordable energy future.”

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit:

“The announcement is the latest indication that the world has changed profoundly since the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.

“Then, the US and China, the world’s top two carbon emitters, both resisted a global agreement on climate change; and now they’re both accelerating their own transitions to a low-carbon economy, as the Clean Power Plan and other announcements show.

“President Obama’s opponents are absolutely right to call it a ‘war on coal' and that’s exactly what it has to be, given the science indicating that about 80% of known coal reserves have to be left in the ground if climate change is to be kept within manageable bounds.”

Roth Capital Partners, Investment Banking Firm:

“In short, we see this as a positive for solar (and cleantech overall). The EPA rule could carry the solar industry beyond the expiration of the ITC and help the solar industry with its goal to extend the ITC. As Obama winds down his second term, he is working to address climate change as part of his legacy.

“Additionally, the move today sets him up for a stronger negotiating hand at the upcoming international climate change negotiations in Paris… While we believe there is a long road ahead for the EPA plan to impact industry fundamentals, we see this supporting positive momentum for our solar coverage universe with meaningful direct or indirect exposure to the US solar industry.”

Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and republican presidential candidate:

“President Obama’s Carbon Rule is irresponsible and overreaching. The rule runs over state governments, will throw countless people out of work, and increases everyone’s energy prices.

“The fact is, US emissions of greenhouse gasses are down to the same levels emitted in the mid-1990s, even though we have 50 million more people. A chief reason for this success is the energy revolution which was created by American ingenuity – not federal regulations.

“Climate change will not be solved by grabbing power from states or slowly hollowing out our economy. The real challenge is how do we grow and prosper in order to foster more game-changing innovations and give us the resources we need to solve problems like this one.” 

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company:

“Peabody Energy today urged further action by courts, Congress, states, consumer groups and industrial/residential electricity customers to turn back the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on electricity generating plants… Americans need relief from “pain at the plug” costs given record electricity rates even amid reduced oil and natural gas prices. 

“Coal provides some of the lowest cost electricity in America and the economy, jobs and households will suffer if these rules move forward. Jurisdictions including Europe, Australia, Ontario and California that have tried such policies have suffered soaring electricity costs and economic harm. 

“The Administration is forcing utilities to increase use of renewables and other high-cost fuels, driving up electricity prices to new records. This past year was the most expensive year ever for electricity in the United States, and electricity rates have increased at twice the pace of household incomes since 2000. Mandating greater reliance on expensive, heavily subsidized renewables, which the plan will require, is also not the solution. After more than 60 years of propping up renewables with over US$85 billion in subsidies, wind and solar only provide about 5% of US electricity.”   

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