The Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules Monday to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. The guidelines would lower carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 (based on 2005 levels). The "Clean Carbon" plan would also cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25%. The EPA claims these changes will shrink electricity bills nearly 8% by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand for electricity. The EPA also estimates that a reduction in greenhouse gases could prevent 6,600 premature deaths,150,000 asthma attacks in children, 490,000 missed work or school days and provide $93 billion in climate and public health benefits. The proposal could still undergo changes and won't take effect for at least two years.
Electricity production generates the majority of greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere. More than 70% of the country's electricity comes from coal and natural gas; coal accounts for one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions. There are more than 600 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and currently there are no national limits on carbon pollution levels.
States will have considerable flexibility to decide how to meet the new federal goals through a combination of renewable energy sources and regional "cap and trade" programs.
The Environmental Defense Fund priased the Clean Carbon plan, calling it a "historic new step in America’s efforts to address climate change."
Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman says in the video above that the U.S. is shrinking its coal footprint as it "pushes it out to someplace else." China is the world's largest producer and consumer of coal; more than half of the world's coal is used by the Chinese.
Republicans are attacking the EPA rule and legal challenges are expected from coal-producing states such as West Kentucky, Kentucky and Illinois. Opponents of the new EPA guidelines argue that President Obama is advancing his climate change agenda through federal agencies under his control, while shutting out Congressional lawmakers.
"Congress won't pass anything the president favors so he's using executive action where he can," notes Newman.
Even so, the EPA rules "are a big gamble on the U.S. energy boom," Newman adds.
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