President Barack Obama is set to reveal on Monday what he described as the biggest and most important steps that would address climate change.
Obama will unveil the final version of plans to tackle planet-warming greenhouse gases generated by coal-fired power plants, which could likely spark legal battles between coal industry supporters and federal environmental regulators.
The revised Clean Power Plan will increase the reduction of carbon emissions from the power sector as it demands a 32 percent cut from 2005 levels by the year 2030. The goal is higher compared with the 30 percent that was proposed in 2014 but it gives states until 2022 to start making the cuts.
The Department of Energy said that coal accounted for 39 percent of electricity last year. Once implemented, the share of coal in electric generation will drop to 27 percent by 2030, said Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy.
Some states and utilities are concerned that the regulation may result in energy shortages but states would be allowed to get a temporary waiver if closure of coal plants would affect the steady delivery of electricity.
The regulation will also spur for an aggressive shift from coal-fired electricity to renewable energy as it encourages utilities to invest more heavily in solar and wind energy. The plan will give credits to states promptly investing in power sources that produce zero carbon.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasted in May that solar generation will almost double and wind power capacity will more than triple come 2040 as a result of the proposed plan.
"Climate change is not a problem for another generation. Not any more," Obama said. "My administration will release the final version of America's Clean Power Plan, the biggest, most important step we have ever taken to combat climate change."
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association said that the Clean Power Plan will increase the price of electricity by 10 percent, which could have significant impact on the poor. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for the 21st Century Energy also concurred saying that it could increase power rates, slow the country's economic growth and costs.
The White House though predicts that by 2030, consumers will pay an average of $85 less on their electric bills per year. It also said that by reducing air pollution, there would be 90,000 fewer asthma attacks in children and could prevent 3,600 premature deaths.
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