By Allison Hooks
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. They require the energy sector to reduce its carbon pollution by 30 percent from the 2005 level by 2030, effectively cutting 730 million metric tons of carbon pollution. The Clean Power Plan sets targets for each state and allows states to develop their own plans to reach the required reductions.
In order to comply with the new rules, Texas would need to reduce its current carbon pollution levels by 39 percent by 2030. Texas generates most of its energy from natural gas (50.46%), followed by coal (32.13%), nuclear (8.94%) and wind (7.49%). In 2012, Texas produced the most carbon pollution nationally, emitting 1,298 pounds per megawatt-hour. To meet the proposed carbon pollution limits, Texas would have to decrease its emission rate to 791 pounds per megawatt-hour.
In order to reach this target, Texas could increase energy efficiency standards, retire coal plants, switch to renewable energy sources, and other carbon reducing measures. The Clean Power Plan was written to allow states flexibility in reaching their required reductions, giving Texas a variety of options.
If Texas closed its top five most polluting coal plants, it would reduce 25 percent of the state’s carbon emissions. Shutting down the top 12 most polluting coal plants would reduce Texas’s carbon emissions by 50 percent.
The Clean Power Plan is attainable and has support in Texas. A recent Stanford poll found that 76 percent of Texans support carbon limits. In addition, more than 30 Texas elected officials, including state Senators Ellis and Garcia, have voiced support for limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
Despite public support, Attorney General Greg Abbott has announced his intention to fight the carbon pollution regulation in court.
Currently, the proposed EPA rules are in a public comment period. Please submit your comments to the EPA in support of strengthening carbon pollution regulations.
Allison Hooks attends Columbia University and is a Global Warming campaign intern.