2023’s Record-Breaking Extreme Weather Makes Strong Power Plant Carbon Rules Even More Important

Climate change disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable communities. We need EPA to adopt the strongest possible limits on pollution from power plants in order to protect our region's health and environmental safety.

Julian Harden | February 5, 2024 | Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Georgia, Utilities

SACE strongly supports the EPA implementing the strongest possible guidelines and standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and protect our environment and public health.

EPA is Finalizing New Power Plant Carbon Standards 

In May of 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new standards and guidelines to tackle carbon pollution from gas and coal power plants. The standards aim to cut 600 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2042. Now, EPA is working to finalize the rules by April 2024. These new carbon standards are a crucial step in the right direction: power plants are one of our nation’s most significant sources of climate pollution, contributing to increasing extreme weather events and endangering public health, especially here in the Southeast, and especially among our most vulnerable communities.

SACE strongly supports the EPA implementing the strongest possible guidelines and standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, and in August 2023, we submitted comments to EPA outlining our position.

Read Our Comments Here

Strong regulations on carbon emissions from power plants can help reduce pollution and protect our environment and public health. Strong standards can also complement federal initiatives such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) by helping combat the climate crisis at the national level and contributing to achieving the Biden administration’s goals of achieving 100% clean power by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

The Southeast’s Weather Dilemma: Driven by Power Plants and Their Impact on Extreme Weather

Burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas in power plants releases toxic pollution and greenhouse gases; and these greenhouse gases in turn trap heat like a blanket in our atmosphere. The result is warmer summers that engulf communities, especially in the already-warm South, and cause urban heat islands. Strategically reducing carbon emissions from gas and coal power plants could alleviate burdensome heat while at the same time improving air quality, leading to healthier communities.

In the Southeast, communities are already grappling with the increasing impact of extreme weather events, widely attributed to climate change: record-breaking heatwaves, hurricanes, and rainfall mark distressing trends, emphasizing the critical need for immediate action.

Recent data concluding that 2023 was the hottest year on record around the globe and that the past ten years comprise the ten hottest years on record make the urgency for immediate action even more apparent. 2023 also had the most billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in U.S. history.

Here in the Atlanta area, we experienced the second-hottest year in 2023, with an average temperature of 2.3 degrees above the 30-year norm. These alarming trends underscore the critical need for robust measures to address the severe impacts of carbon emissions from power plants. These emissions are a known key contributor to the climate crisis and the associated extreme weather conditions we are increasingly witnessing.

Disproportionate Impact on Vulnerable Communities

The repercussions of climate change and pollution are not evenly distributed. Black, Brown, and low-income communities bear a disproportionate burden, and are often situated amid pollution hotspots and especially vulnerable to climate-related disasters. The inequitable distribution of environmental impacts exacerbates existing disparities, making it imperative to address the broader environmental concerns and the specific vulnerabilities of marginalized groups. Recognizing and rectifying these disparities is crucial to building a more just and resilient future for all.

Join Us – Stand Up for Strong Standards!

We at SACE are encouraging Southeast residents to sign onto the petition to President Biden to go big with the forthcoming final power plant carbon rules. Our communities need the strongest possible standards to help reduce the toll that the warming climate is taking on us. Will you please add your name?

Sign The Petition Here

The extreme weather of 2023 made it clear that there is no time to delay on taking strong action to reduce harmful power plant pollution. We need President Biden and his administration to act with resolve and help our communities move beyond the worst threats of the climate crisis.

Join us in building a sustainable and resilient Southeast – our actions today shape the future for generations.

Julian Harden
This blog was written by a former staff member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
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