The Obama Administration has announced what is arguably the most significant environmental regulation of the president’s term: a proposal to curb power plant emissions that will mandate a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions at fossil fuel-burning power plants by 2030.
The proposal was unveiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is expected to set targets for state-by-state reduction of power plant-produced carbon emissions; the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. According to the proposal, states could have until 2017 to submit a plan to cut power plant pollution, or 2018 if they join together with other states to address the issue.
In 2010 the EPA announced it intended to regulate coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, but this effort was not followed through. However, due to factors such as improvement in the economy and the natural gas boom, the White House and advocates feel that the time is right.
According to a poll conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication in April, two-thirds of Americans support increased regulation on power plant emissions, even if the cost of electricity rises.
The success of the carbon emission-cutting rule will depend on pending details, such as exactly how strict the targets are and how the federal government holds states to them. Although U.S. emissions have been declining recently due to increased use of natural gas to generate electricity, the country is still second to China in terms of annual emissions.
Along with this proposal comes the importance of accurately and efficiently collecting, aggregating and reporting emission sources data. An essential piece to the puzzle of addressing climate change and abiding by new rules and regulations is properly measuring and managing information.