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Acting On Climate

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The Impact Of The New Climate Protection Proposal, By The Numbers

As reported last week, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the latest piece in the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan today: a proposed rule to dramatically cut carbon pollution from America’s coal-fired power plants in the coming decades. “Climate inaction is costing us more money, in more places, more often,” said EPA Administration Gina McCarthy in the announcement. “This is an investment in better health and a better future for our kids.”

When it comes to the importance of this rule for public health and for slowing the effects of climate change, the numbers tell the story:

  • 491: The number of coal-fired power plants in the United States.
  • 42 years old: The average age of a coal-fired power plant.
  • 1/3: The share of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions that come from coal-fired power plants, the largest source in the United States.
  • 30 percent: The amount that the new standards aim to cut carbon emissions from the power sector by the year 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
  • 150 million: The number of cars that a 30 percent reduction in emissions from power plants is equal to–that’s two-thirds of all the nation’s passenger vehicles.
  • 6,600: The possible premature deaths avoided annually when a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions is achieved.
  • 150,000: The possible number of asthma attacks per year avoided when a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions is achieved.
  • 490,000: The possible number of missed school or work days avoided when a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions is achieved.
  • $93 billion: The possible economic value of the public health benefit when a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions is achieved.
  • $7: The amount in health benefits that Americans will see for every dollar invest as a result of this plan.
  • 27: The number of states that already have energy efficiency goals or standards in place.
  • 8 percent: The average projected decrease in electricity bills for consumers due to energy efficiency (contrary to opponents who claim bills will go up).
  • 50: The number of different ways the EPA proposal can be implemented, one for each state, according to Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Dan Utech. “This plan is all about flexibility,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in her announcement Monday morning. “That’s what makes it ambitious, but achievable.”
  • 70 percent: The share of Americans who say the federal government should require limits to greenhouse gases from existing power plants, including 63 percent of Republicans.
  • 63 percent: The share of Americans who want limits on greenhouse gases even if they raise monthly energy expenses by $20 a month.

Head over to Climate Progress for a more in-depth run down of the 8 things you should know about the biggest thing a President has ever done on climate change. They’ve also got some great reporting on the most ridiculous responses from political and industry opponents so far.

BOTTOM LINE: For other health threats like arsenic, mercury, and lead, we set limits on contaminants to keep people safe. But we let dirty power plants release as much carbon pollution into the air as they want. That needs to change. The new EPA rule is a huge step for public health and for our children’s futures. The companies that oppose this rule are desperate, dirty, and in denial. They were wrong in 1970 when we passed the Clean Air Act, they were wrong in 1990 when we took steps to stop acid rain, and they are wrong now.

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