EPA Releases Final Clean Power Plan

, By John Adams

Wisconsin will see lower energy bills, more jobs and numerous health benefits

MADISON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Power Plan today, putting in motion the first-ever limits on dangerous carbon pollution emissions from existing electric-generating power plants to curb climate change pollution and protect public health.

“The Clean Power Plan will protect thousands of lives lost to premature death by cutting dangerous soot and smog that makes people sick and keeps children with asthma out of school,” says Dr. Claire Gervais, a family practice physician with UW Health. “For every dollar spent cutting carbon pollution, $7 will be saved through health benefits.”

Leading medical experts, including Dr. Jonathan Patz, professor and director of UW-Madison’s Global Health Institute, have published scientific peer-reviewed literature on the many ways human health is impacted by carbon pollution.

“The quality and longevity of Wisconsin citizens’ lives are at stake and the health of future generations hang in the balance,” says Dr. Michele Brogunier, UW-Madison Department of Family Medicine. “The Clean Power Plan is a major step in the right direction and shows a coordinated national response to these pressing public health concerns.”

Climate change is one of the most serious public health threats facing our state and nation, increasing asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases, lengthening pollen seasons, increasing incidents of heat stroke and increasing risks of insect- and waterborne diseases. The Clean Power Plan will also avoid up to 3,600 premature deaths, lead to 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children, and prevent 300,000 missed work and school days. EPA received millions of comments on the initial carbon pollution limits proposed last year, with the vast majority strongly in favor of the rule.

One change in the final Clean Power Plan is that the starting date for compliance is pushed back from 2020 to 2022. This additional time provides states and utilities greater flexibility in achieving compliance and making the transition to cleaner resources and greater efficiency.

For Wisconsin, EPA’s proposed budget of carbon emission reductions of 41% by 2030 is very reasonable, and Wisconsin is well positioned to meet and exceed that goal.  The interim goal for Wisconsin was reduced slightly.

“The Clean Power Plan presents tremendous opportunities for every state to lower electricity bills while creating good-paying jobs, developing clean sources of energy such as solar and wind power, and making our homes and businesses more energy efficient,” says Keith Reopelle, senior policy director of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental organization. “The state should seize the opportunity to lead the nation in innovation, job creation and health protections by developing a strong implementation plan immediately.”