On Monday, August 3rd, Obama released the final revision for his Clean Power Plan. Many people are talking about it. Is it a good thing or is it a bad thing? Who’s fighting against it? Why are they fighting against it? Is it too bold or is it not bold enough? With all of these questions and so many discussions, there have not been many straight answers given. Being professionals of the energy industry and your typical guy with friends on either side of the argument, I’ve decided to break the situation down in an unbiased, objective point of view so you can come to your own conclusion.
What the heck is the Clean Power Plan?
Let’s start off with a quick summary of what the Clean Power Plan is. It’s a plan to set standards in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030, through setting carbon pollution reduction goals for power plants, which requires states to implement plans to meet these goals. States have until September of 2016 to submit plans, but can take more time if needed, and must comply by 2022. If states do not submit their own plans, the government will provide them.
Good or bad?
Is it a good or a bad thing? Those who do not have a direct affiliation with the coal industry, say it’s a positive step forward, as the coal industry is being directly affected by this plan. Claiming that it is a step forward in making our nation more environmentally friendly, with hopes that there will be cleaner air, fewer premature deaths, lower rates of asthma and that everyone will save money from using renewable sources of energy. Coal industry affiliates claim that it is just another act towards sabotaging their industry, and are therefore going to fight against the plan. The coal industry believes it will hurt state economies, lead to a significant number of layoffs and that the government is overreaching.
Why are they against it?
So the coal industry is fighting it. There has been an ongoing controversy called, “The War on Coal”. Essentially, this is just the coal industry claiming that society is setting rules and standards that only have a negative impact on their industry. Many of those fighting the Clean Power Plan claim that this is going to be the last straw for them and that after this plan is enacted the industry will suffer tremendously and many people will be laid off, leading to the fall of the industry. Those who are in favor of the plan say that the coal industry has been on the decline for years. The proponents of the plan, the folks who are against coal, state that the coal industry is not suffering from environmentally friendly energy plans, but that it is suffering from a combination of low natural gas prices, a falling demand for coal and the fact that it is getting more expensive to mine.
Is it too bold, or is it not bold enough? This is another very prominent discussion point regarding the subject. Some people are saying that it sounds ambitious, and is too detrimental to one industry to ever get passed. Others are arguing that coal-powered power plants are not the only emitters of carbon dioxide, and that the plan doesn’t include vehicle, industrial, cement or methane leaks so maybe the plan isn’t bold enough. Power plants are estimated to only account for about 30% of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s another 70% not being addressed by the Clean Power Act. Obama’s approach seems to be one component of a much broader climate-change agenda, that involves reducing carbon dioxide emissions from all aspects of society and not just the coal industry.
This conversation is all over the internet so it shouldn’t be too hard to find some opinions on the matter and read enough to make an opinion of your own. Hopefully this article helped outline the key points and put the situation into layman’s terms. If you have any further questions regarding the topic that went unanswered here, feel free to give us a call!