By the Numbers: The EPA’s Proposed New Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants

Today, as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA proposed new carbon pollution standards for power plants. These standards represent a commonsense proposal that will have huge benefits for all Americans. In fact, for every dollar of investment spurred by this proposal, there is roughly seven dollars’ worth of health benefits in return.

Here are some numbers that help explain today’s announcement:

  • Nearly 40 is the number of percentage points of total carbon pollution that comes from power plants. The President’s Climate Action Plan has focused on modernizing our buildings, factories, cars, and trucks – but altogether, they make up a little over half of all the carbon pollution. It makes sense, then, that our next logical step would be to modernize the power sector, putting in place the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants.
  • More than 300 is the number of groups EPA engaged with across the country – including 11 public listening sessions that hosted more than 3,000 people – in order to develop its proposal. And the outreach continues. After the proposed rule is published, there will be a 120-day public comment period to make sure the final standards reflect all the best ideas and input from everyone includes states, utilities, labor, health advocates, environmental groups and industry.
  • 30 is the number of percentage points of total carbon pollution that will be cut from our power sector by 2030 – relative to 2005 levels. That is like erasing the annual carbon pollution from two-thirds of all cars and trucks in America. And if you add up what we will avoid between 2020 and 2030 under the proposal, it’s more than the carbon pollution from every power plant in America in 2012 – times two.
  • 50 is the number of ways the EPA proposal can be implemented; this proposal puts tools in the hands of each state and its governor – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. And let’s remember that the idea of setting higher standards to cut carbon pollution isn’t new. 47 states have utilities that run demand-side energy efficiency programs, 38 have renewable portfolio standards or goals, and 10 have market-based greenhouse gas emissions programs.
  • 48 to 84 billion is the number of dollars of net benefits that the proposal will generate in 2030. A big share of those net benefits come from lives saved and quality of life improved, asthma attacks avoided and fewer days of missed school or work. Specific 2030 benefits include up to:
    • 150,000 fewer asthma attacks
    • 3,700 less cases of bronchitis in children
    • 180,000 fewer days of school missed
    • 310,000 fewer lost work days
    • 6,600 less premature deaths
    • 3,300 fewer heart attacks
    • 1,700 avoided hospital emergency room visits
  • Tens of thousands are the number of jobs that EPA and others estimate will be created by the proposed standards – including machinists to manufacture energy-efficient appliances, construction workers to build efficient homes and buildings or weatherize existing ones, service providers to do energy audits and install efficient technologies, and engineers and programmers to design and improve building energy management systems.
  • 8 is the number of percentage points by which families and businesses will be able to cut their electricity bill under the EPA proposal in 2030. Taking advantage of energy efficiency, states can implement the EPA’s proposal in a way that drives billions of investment into retrofits like upgrades to windows and heating and cooling systems; deployment of better appliances through programs like accelerated buy-back; and improved energy management including through smart metering.  Steps like this will cut energy waste and cut electricity bills.
  • More than 80 is the number of countries – representing over 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions – who pledged in 2009 to take climate actions through 2020 under the Copenhagen Accord.  As countries prepare long-range carbon reduction goals for a global climate deal expected in 2015, they are looking to the United States for leadership and an example to follow. The President’s Climate Action Plan ensures that America will be a leader in those negotiations and in the global fight against climate change.
  • 44 is the number of years that EPA’s legal authority to reduce air pollution has been around. The Clean Air Act, enacted by Congress in 1970, established mechanisms for controlling emissions of air pollutants from stationary sources – including power plants. In the year 2010 alone, updates to the Act are estimated to have prevented more than 160,000 premature deaths, 130,000 heart attacks, 86,000 hospital admissions, 13 million lost workdays, and 3.2 million lost school days due to respiratory illness and other diseases caused or exacerbated by air pollution.

Finally, zero – that’s the number of times special interests have been right about having to choose between the health of our people and the health of our economy.