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EPA Greenhouse Gas Rule Good First Step to Fighting Climate Change; Rule Is Designed to Help States Protect Consumers

Update: This press release was update to reflect that the city of Austin, Texas, signed a 20-year agreement with Recurrent Energy.

June 2, 2014

EPA Greenhouse Gas Rule Good First Step to Fighting Climate Change; Rule Is Designed to Help States Protect Consumers

Note: Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Below are statements from two Public Citizen experts.

From Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen:

“Consumers desperately need aggressive action to avert catastrophic climate change. We celebrate today’s announced EPA rules as an important step forward, even as we note that the science demands much more aggressive action be taken.

Given currently available efficiency and renewable energy technologies, today’s rules should not raise electricity costs for residential consumers. Indeed, consumers may well see lower electricity bills, with the rule working to lower utility costs. There is every reason to believe that scaled-up investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy will be cheaper than relying on coal, especially as new technologies and economies of scale come into play.

Whether the rule keeps electricity costs in check will depend on state implementation plans. It will be especially vital that states ensure low-income consumer access to affordable energy. More generally, states will need to prevent utility company predations and ensure obtained savings are shared with the consumers.

What consumers absolutely cannot afford is the cost of failing to act to avert catastrophic climate change. Catastrophic climate change will impose untold massive costs on the economy, public health and consumer well-being. Catastrophic climate change promises higher water costs, higher health insurance costs, higher energy costs, higher home costs – with much housing likely washed away – and much more.

The EPA rule is a modest and very helpful step toward the comprehensive global solution needed to avoiding these horrendous human and economic costs, and ushering in the energy transformation that will enable the American and global economy to flourish in the 21st century.”

From Tyson Slocum, director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program:

“Today’s announcement of the EPA’s proposed rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants is an important first step in our nation’s response to combating climate change. As an organization with a mission to protect consumers, we understand the imperative of taking action on climate change, as many of our most vulnerable constituents are exposed to damages from increased frequency and severity of storms, flooding and other climate change impacts. 

The proposed rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants – taken together with similar regulations for not-yet-built power plants, as well as fully implemented emissions standards for automobiles – represents a needed effort that begins to address greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector.

Programs to avert catastrophic climate change must ensure that households have access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy. While we will need time to digest the details of the proposed rule, we are pleased that it provides ample opportunities for states to design energy efficiency, distributed renewable energy programs and other broad-based initiatives that can be implemented with maximum benefits for consumers.

For that reason, this rule can deliver savings to consumers. Electricity costs can be reduced through energy efficiency and solar power. In March, for instance, the city of Austin, Texas, signed a 20-year agreement with Recurrent Energy to supply electricity to the city from solar power at a rate less than the city’s prevailing rate, meaning electric rates for households will decline under the solar deal.

Even many regulated utilities, such as American Electric Power, Dominion Resources and Duke Energy, have said that they expect to be able to implement Obama administration’s climate change plan in a way that keeps rates affordable for consumers.

Contrary to the coal industry and U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s claim, the proposed EPA rule is in reality modest and a much needed first step. We urge the EPA to work with states and stakeholders to promote processes and programs that will reduce the threat of climate change while delivering value and savings to consumers, and ensuring that service and affordability is safeguarded for low-income consumers.”


Read an additional statement from Public Citizen President Robert Weissman on the proposed rule.

View a coalition release on the proposed rule.