WMEAC: Strong standard will help state comply with federal carbon rules

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy put it simply: “We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.
Jun 20, 2014

Our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation and create jobs.” She is correct.

The EPA and the Obama administration's recent decision to lower carbon emissions has sparked significant debate throughout the country. The draft rules, now open for public comment, set a carbon standard for states to reduce emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.          

In the U.S., power plants are the largest producers of carbon emissions, contributing one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA rules target these emissions, but grant states significant flexibility in how carbon reductions are actually achieved. 

According to the Department of Energy, Michigan used coal to generate 54 percent of its net electricity in 2013, compared to the national average of 44 percent. Michigan’s relatively large use of coal makes it even more important that we step up and work toward becoming a clean energy leader.

The Union of Concerned Scientists reports that Michigan spends approximately $1.36 billion each year importing coal from other states. 

Perhaps more importantly, the new standards will save lives and make people healthier.  The EPA estimates the rules will yield as much as $93 billion in climate and health benefits by preventing up to 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and 490,000 missed work or school days nationwide.

In recent statements, Gov. Rick Snyder administration officials have indicated qualified support for the proposed rule, waiting for details and changes yet to come. The EPA is working hard to win states’ support — building a menu of options for compliance and allowing states to choose what measures they will implement to meet the goal. 

Indeed, Michigan’s renewable portfolio and energy-efficiency standards, and scheduled coal plant closings, will better position our state to meet the rules. Michigan is on pace to meet its 10 percent renewable energy goal by 2015 and utilities have exceeded their 1 percent annual energy-efficiency goals every year since implementation (Public Act 295 of 2008). Both standards have been success stories — promoting economic development and driving down costs, all while reducing carbon emissions, air and water pollution. 

A common concern associated with renewable energy and energy efficiency is that they cost more than traditional sources, and that costs will increase with utilization. Both are incorrect. 

Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest and most readily available source of energy available to Michiganders – estimated by the Michigan Public Service Commission at $10.97 per megawatt-hour. The price of new coal is $107 per megawatt-hour. The state commission reports, “For every $1 spent on energy-efficiency programs, customers will save $3 in avoided energy costs.” 

If the federal carbon standards are adopted, Michigan will be required to comply. The state will be tasked with decreasing emissions to 1,161 pounds per megawatt-hour from a baseline rate of 1,696 pounds/MWh. Doing so should be viewed as an economic opportunity and not a burden. 

Michigan has the knowledge, experience and policy tools to meet the standard — and thrive while doing so.

— By Amanda Kreuze, an intern for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council

Comments

Wolverine49457

I sense a great disturbance in tax and revenue collection force.

Zegota

No matter, it will be the working class, and those who are on a fixed income that will pay for this dream. Because there are millions of working class members that fall through the so called federal entitlements safety net. Which means that they will still pay the high fuel bills, high utility bills, higher gasoline prices and lets not forget the increase in federal taxes. So that big brother can promise more financial relief and dream of new entitlements, all on the back of our children and the working class.

HimilayaBruce79

As China and India grow and more than make up for any US reductions in CO2 emissions, what difference will it make? I wish everyone who thinks we can switch to renewables without a huge increase in cost would have to live for a day in an economy where the AC and the lights go out because the wind isn't blowing or its cloudy.

Its always the big evil power and oil companies that are supposed to fix the problem with absolutely no sacrifice being asked of the populace- that might be unpopular and actually cause somebody to not be re-elected.

GOLDEN

Yes, the only way to fix this is at the ballot box and the sooner the better.

Boater

Okay Tribune, how about finding someone within the industry to give their comments and facts? "The Union of Concerned Scientist" sound like activists pushing their agenda. The EPA has gone rogue and must be stopped from going beyond their designated powers.
I'm tired of this oppressive Administration that implements whatever regardless, because he has a pen and a phone. Just wait until November... 2014 & 2016. No doubt.

Tri-cities realist

Hmm I wonder where the Trib might find some local experts? Perhaps if they looked a few hundred yards to the northwest.

Interestedreader

Gina first three sentences are captivating,wonder how many are factual? "She is correct" how so?

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