New Poll Finds Most Voters Want EPA To Limit Carbon Pollution From Power Plants

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According to the results of a Sierra Club national survey released Tuesday, seven-in-ten Americans favor the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) putting limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can release.‬

The poll, ‪conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, surveyed ‬1,000 registered voters across the country between January 11 and 20.

By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, the voters questioned think the U.S. should be investing more in clean energy sources and energy efficiency rather than in fossil fuels. The poll also found that a majority of voters — 58 percent — favor the U.S. setting national goals to move away from coal and other fossil fuels and replace them with clean, renewable sources by the year 2030.

Two-in-three U.S. voters reported that the issue of climate disruption is a serious problem. Interestingly the majority of voters — 56 percent — incorrectly believe that the government already limits the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can release.

“Americans want to cut their ties to dirty fuels and instead power their country with 100% clean energy,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a press release. “These poll results should send a clear message to President Obama and the EPA that they must look beyond an ‘all of the above’ energy policy and completely replace dirty fuels with clean energy.”

On January 8, the Environmental Protection Agency finally published its much-anticipated rule to limit carbon emissions from new power plants. The proposed rule appeared in the Federal Register, four months after EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy first announced it back in September.

The regulation mandates that all future coal plants can emit just 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour. An average U.S. coal plant currently dumps over 1,700 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every megawatt-hour of energy it produces. The rule also covers new natural-gas fired plants. Natural gas plants, 100 megawatts or larger, will be limited to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, while smaller plants could emit no more than 1,100 pounds.

The publication of the emissions rule for new power plants kicked off an ongoing 60-day public comment period on the proposal.

The rule for new power plants lays the groundwork for the EPA to draw up standards for the thousands of existing power plants — some 6,500 — which to date have been completely free to pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. Those power plants are responsible for about 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. The rule is expected this summer.

“Dirty power plants are a threat to our health and our climate, and Americans are ready for the EPA to protect them from power plant pollution,” said Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign Director Mary Anne Hitt in a press release. “President Obama and the EPA have the public support they need to ensure pending carbon pollution standards for power plants are strong enough to protect our families.”