Worrying signs reinforce need for Clean Power Plan in the Southeast

Reigning in air pollution is one of many ways the communities of the Southeast can help build a more secure future. Next week's release of the Clean Power Plan is an important step toward that future. (© Robert Llewellyn)

As we anticipate the release early next week of the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever federal proposal to cut carbon pollution from power plants, another report highlights why the changes prescribed in the plan are so necessary. The report by the nonprofit Risky Business, released earlier this week, outlines the threat climate change poses to the Southeast economy.

The report concludes that shifts made now toward alternative energy and greater efficiency could mitigate climate change’s worst effects.

As the first paragraph of the report’s executive summary states:

“The Southeast U.S. and Texas are experiencing an economic boom, mostly due to manufacturing and energy industry growth. But that boom is at risk from unchecked climate change, which could render this region—already one of the hottest and most weather-vulnerable of the country—at significant economic risk. However, if policymakers and business leaders act aggressively to adapt to the changing climate and to mitigate future impacts by reducing their carbon emissions, this region can lead in responding to climate risk. The Southeast can demonstrate to national and global political leaders the kind of strong response necessary to ensure a strong economic future.”

Extreme heat, increased energy demand, sea level rise, more heat-related deaths, and drops in agricultural yield and labor productivity are all part of the mix threatening the Southeast as climate patterns shift, according to the analysis.

“What this report underlines is that if we want to keep things the same in the South – both our natural environment and our healthy economy – we need to change the way we do business,” said Frank Rambo, senior attorney and leader of our Clean Energy and Air Program. “Particularly in the energy sector, the impact of the traditional ways we produce, transmit, and use electricity are stressing and altering our environment, and that means not only losing our natural heritage, but jeopardizing our economy and the quality of life its sustains.”

The Clean Power Plan is a much-needed step on that path to changing how business is done in the Southeast. Designed to regulate the largest single source of greenhouse gases, the plan offsets targets for cutting carbon emissions to 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2025, but allows states flexibility to determine their own plans in how to meet those goals.

Implementation of the Clean Power Plan:

  • allows for job creation as new industries help with the transition to cleaner power
  • improves public health by reducing air pollution
  • provides flexibility for states to implement policies that best suit them
  • will lead to lower electricity bills, assuming its implemented wisely
  • can help states recruit businesses that are making alternative energy a requirement for new locations.

For all these reasons and more, the Southeast is ready and able to implement the enhancements advanced by the Clean Power Plan.

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