The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is among the most significant climate policies the United States has ever implemented. This plan, designed by the Environmental Protection Agency with the input of over 4 million public comments (including comments from PSR members, chapters and staff), will reduce U.S. carbon pollution by 32% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.
The Plan achieves these reductions by prompting the states to shift from coal-burning as the source of electricity to clean renewable sources like solar energy and wind power. These renewable sources generate virtually no carbon pollution. The burning of coal, on the other hand, makes the electrical power sector the single greatest source of carbon pollution in the United States.
In addition, mining, processing, transporting and burning coal make coal-fired power plants a major source of toxic air and water contamination.
The Plan sets individual state goals tailored to each state's preexisting energy mix and opportunities for emission reduction. Not only are the reduction goals tailored to each state, but each state can also design the pathway by which it will achieve its reduction. The Plan does incentivize certain options, specifically, early deployment of solar or wind energy and the implementation of cost-saving renewable energy and energy efficiency programs for low-income households.
The health benefits of acting to mitigate climate change are substantial. Intense heat, storms, droughts and other climate-related changes are already threatening the health of Americans across the country. By reducing carbon pollution, we slow the pace of warming and blunt the increase in these threats to health.
The health benefits from the Clean Power Plan go far beyond protecting our climate. By decreasing the power sector's reliance on fossil fuels, the CPP also decreases the particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and other harmful air pollution created by burning fossil fuels. Decreased air pollution will have powerful benefits for public health. The EPA estimates that the improved air quality fostered by the CPP will, by 2030, result in the following improvements in health each year:
prevent 3,600 premature deaths
avert 90,000 child asthma attacks
lead to 300,000 less missed school and work days
For more information on how climate change is affecting your community's health and how the CPP will help, take a look at PSR's state-specific climate health factsheets.
If your state isn't listed yet, check back soon, as we'll be adding factsheets frequently.
To fully realize all the potential Clean Power Plan benefits, states will need to design implementation plans that prioritize renewable energy and energy efficiency. If you'd like to help ensure your state's leaders design the best plan possible, consider getting involved through PSR's Climate Health Action Teams.
For more information on the health impacts of coal:
The 2018 edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking updates the rapidly expanding evidence indicating harm to health from fracking and methane infrastructure. Read more. Read more »
PSR and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)'s new report examines the public health benefits and medical cost savings of cutting annual electric consumption by 15 percent. Read more »