The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, finalized in August 2015, is the most important step ever taken by the US to curb global warming emissions. But in February of this year the Clean Power Plan was put on hold
by the Supreme Court, threatening to derail US climate progress at a time when rising temperatures and sea levels demand a rapid transition away from fossil fuels.
Today, the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration released new projections that help clarify the extent of harm that would befall the environment and public health if the Clean Power Plan is not restored. Using this newly released data we can estimate that without the Clean Power Plan, cumulatively between 2017 and 2030, the US will suffer a variety of environmental and public health consequences, including:
- Emitting an extra 2.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from electricity generation, equivalent to an extra 50 coal-fired power plants running for that time, and a third more carbon dioxide than US electricity generation emitted in all of 2015.
- Emitting an extra combined 4.5 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from electricity generation, pollution that causes respiratory illness and death in humans, kills fish and aquatic life through water acidification, and contributes to smog.[pdf]
- Generating 30 percent less solar power and 11 percent less wind power, meaning a slowdown in efforts to transition to a clean energy economy.
The Clean Power Plan represents a critical step on the road to reducing US global warming emissions – but even with the policy in place, there’s far more to do to speed the US transition away from fossil fuels. At a time when we should be moving as quickly as possible toward 100% renewable energy, every day that the Clean Power Plan remains tied up in the court system is a step in the wrong direction.
 Coal plant estimate based on EPA data here.