David Doniger, Policy Director, Climate and Clean Air Program, Washington, D.C.
Fox News did a hatchet job Tuesday on NRDC’s innovative proposal showing how the President can create jobs, grow the economy, slow climate change, and save lives by using the Clean Air Act to cut the dangerous carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants.
We’ve got a plan that achieves huge health and climate benefits at surprisingly low cost, that’s fair and flexible for each state and power company, that holds power bills down, and that triggers huge job-creating clean energy investments that can’t be outsourced. It’s a plan that even some power companies are praising.
Here, in brief, is our plan:
EPA would set state-specific carbon emission rates for the fossil fuel power plants in each state, through a formula that reflects the diversity of the nation’s electricity sector and fuel supplies.
Power plant owners and states would have broad flexibility to reduce emissions through a range of cost-effective options including:
Improving a plant’s combustion efficiency or by burning cleaner fuels.
Shifting generation from high-emitting to lower- or zero-emitting plants. Cleaner sources such as gas, wind and solar would earn credits that high-emitting plants could use, reducing average emissions rates overall.
Ramping up energy efficiency. More efficient buildings, appliances, and industries mean less electricity has to be generated to get our work done. Those electricity savings bring pollution reductions that would also count as compliance credits for by high-emitting plants.
States would have additional flexibility to adopt alternative approaches—such as those already in place in California, the Northeast states, and Colorado—as long as they are equally effective in cutting emissions.
Our plan would cut carbon pollution from America’s existing power plants 26 percent by 2020 and 34 percent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. The cost—about $4 billion in 2020—would be far outweighed by the benefits—between $25 and $60 billion in lives saved, avoided illnesses, and reduced climate change in 2020 alone.
Our plan would also prompt investments of more than $90 billion in energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy in the next eight years. This would create jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, boost local and state economies, and move America toward a clean energy, clean air future.
But do we get a fair shake on Fox? Do we even get invited on to explain our own plan?
Nope. As Fox watchdog Media Matters noted, anchor Megyn Kelly and “Digital Politics Editor” (whatever that is) Chris Stirewalt jointly trashed our proposal without any evidence of having read it.
You wouldn’t know from Fox’s “reporting” that Congress had ever passed, and Richard Nixon had signed, the Clean Air Act – the landmark law that has protected Americans’ health and welfare for four decades. You wouldn’t know that it’s EPA’s job under that law to tackle all dangerous air pollutants, including the carbon pollution that’s driving climate change.
No, it’s all some usurpation by EPA, Obama, and, oh yes, the Supreme Court to “bypass” Congress.
You wouldn’t know that America has endured another record year of extreme weather – droughts, heatwaves, floods, and Superstorm Sandy – that scientists are connecting to carbon pollution. You wouldn’t know that power plants are America’s number one source of that carbon pollution.
You wouldn’t know that our plan is remarkably flexible, one that treats states fairly by taking into account how much they rely on coal or gas to make electricity, and that gives power companies unprecedented flexibility in how to clean up. Kelly and her Digital Politics guru just trashed the plan as “cap and trade” – even though there’s no cap in our plan at all!
You wouldn’t know that our plan will push electricity prices down, not up. And Ms. Kelly barely mentioned that the benefits – in lives saved, asthma cases prevented, and climate change averted – hugely beat the costs … by six to 15 times!
We’ve gone out of our way to be fair and flexible.
Silly me, I thought that sounded pretty close to fair and balanced.
C’mon Fox, your Digital Politics “war on coal” is so yesterday. Next time, how about an open mind?
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