The Environmental Protection Agency will present a draft rule Monday that seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants 30% over 2005 levels by the year 2030, according to anonymous sources briefed on the plan.
This is a big deal. The New York Times calls the rule "the strongest action ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change." The Washington Post is less confident on this point, noting that while the plan would slash 500-million metric tons of CO2 by 2030, "previous measures to strengthen fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks will cut 2.9 billion metric tons by 2050." Either way, the rule represents a huge move by the Obama administration.
Here's the NYT with a summary of the plan:
Under the proposal to be unveiled on Monday, states will be given a wide menu of policy options to achieve the pollution cuts. Rather than immediately shutting down coal plants, states will be allowed to reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems – by installing new wind and solar generation, energy-efficiency technology and by starting or joining state and regional "cap-and-trade" programs, in which states agree to cap carbon pollution and buy and sell permits to pollute.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of Monday's draft rule, every state will be held to different percent reduction standards, but "the national average will be 25% by 2020 and 30% by 2030."
Remember, these percentage drops are relative to 2005 pollution levels, which the U.S. uses as its benchmark. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions already fell roughly 10% between 2005 and 2012, due mostly to a retreat from coal and transition to natural gas, putting the country well on its way to meeting the goals. (Seen through a more cynical lens, this means states and industries will be able to factor in carbon cuts they've already made.)
The EPA is scheduled to finalize the rule by June 2015. States will be required to submit their plans for compliance to the Agency by June 2016.
President Obama is set to officially unveil the details of the plan Monday morning, so we'll have updates as this develops. In the meantime, Mother Jones has a thorough rundown of what you need to know about The EPA's big plans.