State policies have achieved greenhouse gas savings — report

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 14, 2014

Federal, state and regional policies to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency and to cut greenhouse gas emissions helped produce a 12 percent decline in U.S. carbon emissions between 2007 and 2012, according to a new study by Environment America.
The environmental group said in its 44-page¬†report¬†that state renewable energy standards and other policies have helped wind, solar and other renewable industries to quadruple in that time, leading to 62 million metric tons in avoided CO2 in 2012. Efficiency standards for lighting, building efficiency and other sectors have also contributed. A new rule for fluorescent and incandescent lamps that took effect in 2012 — and that has sometimes been a bone of contention on Capitol Hill — cut greenhouse gases by 3.6 million metric tons in the final six months of that year, the report said.Environment America releases its report as U.S. EPA is in the final stages of crafting its proposal for existing power plant CO2. Environmentalists have said they hope the guidance takes advantage of greenhouse gas reduction opportunities throughout the power system by spurring utilities to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Natural Resources Defense Council released a proposal in 2012 demonstrating how it says EPA could craft the rule to maximize demand-side efficiency and other benefits that fall outside the fence line of a power plant.Julian Boggs of Environment America said today’s study was tailored not to EPA alone, but for state officials who will be tasked with crafting implementation plans for the rule.

“Ultimately, it is going to be up to governors and state regulators to come up with plans to meet the rule,” he said. “We expect that EPA will [provide] a lot of flexibility.”

The report is intended to show that clean energy and efficiency policies have “proven their mettle” and should be considered to help states comply with the rule when it is released.

Industry advocates have argued that EPA must confine its proposal to what can be achieved “inside the fence line” at a power plant, crafting a narrower rule that would achieve more modest reductions.

States will have just more than two years to craft and submit their implementation plans for the existing power plant rule after EPA releases its proposal by June 1. Their state plans must include policies that are already in place when the plans are submitted, perhaps including renewable energy standard policies and efficiency standards that have been enacted.