Today’s proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon emissions from power plants is important to our country’s future. Over the years, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, we’ve made progress in protecting our air and water from harmful mercury, arsenic, soot and other types of pollutants. Every time we’ve done it, people have claimed the economic costs weren’t worth the health and environmental benefits. They’ve been wrong every time because the higher standards sparked innovations in new technologies and ways of doing business that increased growth and created jobs.
The proposed rule presents both challenges and opportunities. It gives states the flexibility to meet their carbon reduction goals through their own formulas, providing utilities, their employees, and the people they serve the power to choose the options that work best for them, including energy efficiency, investments in natural gas and renewable energy, and improvements in old power plants that emit the most carbon dioxide. States will need to involve all their stakeholders—utilities and their workers, businesses and their employees, and citizen rate-payers—to fashion solutions to fit their particular challenges and opportunities.
We’ve known about the dangers of global warming, ocean damage, and the other problems of climate change for too long to delay this important action. Yes, we can’t solve the problems alone, but we can’t expect China, India and the other big global emitters of carbon to make similar reductions if we don’t lead by example.
As I said, recent history has shown that actions to improve health and the environment are net creators of jobs, good-paying jobs for American workers that can’t be outsourced overseas.
However, it is imperative that the states most reliant on coal to generate electricity and those with people who work in the coal industry be given ample resources to deal with any dislocation that occurs—not just for retraining, but for employment in the new businesses and jobs this rule will generate. They haven’t done anything wrong, and they have a right to be part of a better future.
I applaud the EPA and the Obama Administration and look forward to seeing how the states implement the proposal.