In December 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council unveiled a proposal showing one way for the EPA to significantly cut carbon pollution from the nation’s powerplants—at low cost and with big benefits. This approach:
- Allows states to tailor policies to meet the standards, choosing among such actions as cleaning up existing power plants, shifting power generation to plants with lower emissions or none at all, and improving the efficiency of electricity use.
- Sets carbon intensity–based emissions standards for all large fossil-fueled power plants. Each state would have a different target; states relying more on coal would have a higher carbon target than those depending less on coal.
- Charts a path to affordable and effective emissions reductions by tapping into the ingenuity of the states and leveraging their existing efforts to reduce pollution and provide more clean energy options. This state-based approach has been used for decades to cut other pollutants.
- Can be implemented now using the authority the EPA has under the Clean Air Act.
NRDC selected a respected firm, ICF International, Inc., often used by industry and government to model impacts of regulations, to analyze the impact of its power plant plan on jobs and electricity bills. In a 2014 analysis conducted by ICF for NRDC and based on NRDC’s policy designs and assumptions, it was found that the EPA could design carbon pollution standards to help the nation reduce carbon pollution 29 percent by 2020 and 38 percent by 2025, compared with 2012 levels. These carbon reductions would generate between $28 billion and $63 billion in benefits through avoided climate change impacts and avoided pollution-related illnesses and deaths.