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Chapter Two of

A Climate Solution Within Reach

The most important action on climate change in a generation has been finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This safeguard needs to be defended and strengthened. Learn how it works, and how it can go further to protect our communities.
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The most important climate change action in a generation has been finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This safeguard needs to be defended and strengthened. Learn how it works, and how it can go further to protect our communities.
Chapter Two

Getting a Clean Power Plan

Power plants are the biggest single source of climate pollution in the U.S.Zero. Power plants have had no federal limits on their climate pollution. Until now.

Power plants are the biggest source of climate change pollution in the United States. They account for one-third of all U.S. carbon pollution.

After decades of inaction on this problem—and this source of the problem—a sharp and time-tested tool to cut climate change pollution is now at our fingertips: The federal Clean Air Act. This law has had enormous success efficiently and effectively getting many of our nation’s air pollution problems under control. Finally bringing this law to bear on power plants and their carbon pollution is a long overdue step.

The EPA, acting at President Obama’s behest, has finalized a new safeguard to do just that. This new “Clean Power Plan” will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from American power plants by 30 percent by the year 2030.

The Clean Power Plan could become the most important anti-pollution and public health safeguard in a generation. It offers hope of putting off some of the worst climate change impacts that we are already starting to see. It could spur innovation and efficiency and demonstrate once more the American tradition of responsible global leadership.

The plan is designed to:

  1. Require states to submit their own plans to EPA to meet the state-by-state goals EPA has outlined.
  2. Implement a federal plan for any state that does not submit its own plan.
  3. Remain flexible in allowing states to determine how best to meet the goal, including (1) efficiency at the power plant, (2) lower emissions, (3) emissions-free energy alternatives, and (4) other efficiency measures.

But the Clean Power Plan needs to be defended and strengthened. It should be more ambitious and aggressive.

The Clean Energy Plan is a good start, but it must be strengthened. As increasingly urgent warnings from climate scientists have made clear, we are running out of time for delay and half-measures. We will continue fighting to ensure that the Clean Power Plan:

  1. Is clean, fair, and enforceable. EPA must also set binding annual targets to make sure that real progress is being made in cutting carbon pollution as quickly as possible. The Clean Power Plan must have clear, fair rules that apply equally to every state, along with strong enforcement mechanisms to allow the EPA and citizens to keep industry and the states on track.
  2. Has a consistent process for tracking and confirming carbon pollution reductions.
  3. Has binding milestones to keep us on track to achieving the pollution reductions that are critical by 2030. The EPA must have a stronger oversight role to ensure that every state does its fair share to reduce carbon pollution.
Limits on power plants could prevent more than 100,000 asthma attacks in kids every year.$13 billion: Amount saved in U.S. electricity bills by cutting climate pollution from power plants.

Past experience tells us that polluters exert outsized influence in many state capitals, and they routinely use that influence to try to evade accountability for their pollution. They should not be allowed to push the cost of dealing with their pollution onto the public nor operate as though they are above the law.

The transition to clean energy is no longer an option. It is an urgent necessity, and every moment of delay brings us closer to the brink of a global disaster.

Moving away from dirty fossil fuels won’t just help avert the calamity of climate change; it will vastly improve the lives of many now suffering from immediate effects of toxic pollution from dirty power plants.

Polls show that overwhelming, bipartisan majorities across the nation understand the urgent need to take action.

The public understands that EPA safeguards are vital to protect the health and well-being of families and communities in America and around the globe.

On the other hand, and out of touch with public opinion, the fossil fuel industry and its congressional allies will continue to bring all their money and influence to bear to crush the Clean Power Plan.

Polluters are spending massive amounts of money on this lobbying effort, as they have done for every effort offered to clean up pollution in recent history.

But this time, it’s different. We are seeing unparalleled political spending by dirty energy industries to squash this Clean Power Plan. Before the proposal was even released, fossil fuels special interest groups were using distorted attack ads and inflated cost estimates in an attempt to frighten the American people and undermine this effort.

When acting on climate change has the added benefits of cleaner air that’s easier to breathe, healthier communities, safer people and homes, economic protection and even growth, why would elected officials oppose it?

Why So Much Climate Denial in Congress?Why So Much Climate Denial in Congress?Follow the Money: On average, climate deniers in Congress take 3.5 times more dirty energy money than everyone else.Follow the Money: On average, climate deniers in Congress take 3.5 times more dirty energy money than everyone else.And Congress's climate deniers have been busy putting their dirty energy money to work.And Congress's climate deniers have been busy putting their dirty energy money to work.But they're out of touch. Because the American Public Demands Climate Action.But they're out of touch. Because the American Public Demands Climate Action.
Source For All Political Money Data: OpenSecrets.org
Source For Congressional Denier Data: Center for American Progress War Room

Now is the time for the power of the people to overcome special-interest power. With the will of the public, we can prevail over the polluters and make a stronger and cleaner Clean Power Plan a reality.

For the sake of future generations, and for the sake of communities now living with power plant pollution and those already experiencing climate change impacts:

we must do this.

Real People, Real Stories, Real Reasons

for a Strong, Enforceable Clean Power Plan

Community advocates from across the country went to Capitol Hill to share why the Clean Power Plan and strong action to combat climate change is critical. Read their stories:

Irene Vilar. Read Irene's story
Ulises Alfaro. Read Ulises' story
Ana E. Nobis. Read Ana's story
Terry Gallagher. Read Terry's story
Cheeraz Gorman. Read Cheeraz's story
Elaine Lac. Read Elaine's story