Editorials overwhelmingly support Clean Power Plan

Newspaper editorial boards highlight the economic, environmental and health benefits of diversifying electricity mix with wind energy and other renewables.

It’s been several days now since the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever rule to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants, was released. As expected, many newspapers were quick to weigh in with their opinion on whether the Clean Power Plan is an achievable, doable step in the right direction or not.

So how did the Clean Power Plan fare?

Out of 30 editorials reviewed from this past week, 83% were supportive of the Clean Power Plan. Nine out of 10 were eithernewspaper editorial PCP positive or neutral. The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and the Detroit News were all left on the outside as the only three critical of the Clean Power Plan.

The vast majority of the editorials, including the USA Today and the New York Times, declared the Clean Power Plan a success, declaring it overdue and a step in the right direction to cut carbon emissions.

  • “Power plan protects planet” – USA Today, 8/3/15
  • “President Obama’s tough, achievable climate plan” – New York Times, 8/3/15

It wasn’t just big name papers like these, all across the country editorial writers gave a variety of reasons why they specifically came to that conclusion:

Economic benefits

“As the coal industry lost 49,000 jobs between 2008 and 2012, according to a Duke University study, the solar and wind industry gained 79,000 jobs. Where once there might have been a solid Republican wall of denial around renewables, the cost of wind power has become so competitive that Iowa, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kansas now get between 17 percent and 27 percent of their energy from it.”Boston Globe, 8/6/15

“Opponents of the new emissions plan are calling attention to the jobs in coal and supporting industries that will be lost once the EPA rules go into effect. But a recent Economic Policy Institute analysis indicates that there would be a net gain in employment due to jobs created in the clean-energy and conservation sectors. In other words, instead of fighting the emissions plan, the governors who oppose it should be putting down their bullhorns and picking up their phones to talk new energy companies into coming to their states to help absorb expected job losses. Workers facing unemployment can be retrained for clean-energy jobs, especially in technical fields that could grow significantly. There’s no need for this country to act like some dinosaur waiting for climate change to make it extinct. The Clean Power Plan will help accelerate the development of clean, safe, and profitable energy sources that wean us off toxic fuels.” Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/3/2015

“[Governor] Walker and other critics say the plan is too costly: The governor cited figures from the state Public Service Commission and the Department of Natural Resources estimating that Wisconsin consumers would be forced to pay an additional $13 billion in compliance costs between now and 2030. And Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, said higher energy prices would hurt manufacturing, noting that Wisconsin relies more on that sector than many states…The EPA says they’re wrong: The average American’s monthly electricity bill will drop by 7% in 2030, the agency says, and opponents are ignoring lower health care costs in the coming years.”Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 8/4/15

A study done at Georgia Tech found that some states will see electric bills go down as utilities move to gas and renewables and aggressively pursue energy efficiencies. Utilities can get greenhouse gas reduction credits without constructing expensive new gas-fired generation stations… In short, this doesn’t have to be the economic doomsday scenario…[m]odest, affordable steps can make a difference. New jobs can be created in renewable energy fields. Or we can pander and stall, and present the grandchildren with a real doomsday scenario.St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/4/2015

“The efficiency standards would help to offset price increases that may arise from compliance. Critics of pollution controls long have issued dire warnings. Yet the record shows the benefits of curbing emissions have far outpaced the costs. The country even has gained from innovations in technology, something job-challenged Ohio should bear in mind.” Akron Beacon-Journal, 8/4/15

“The president’s plan will create state-based caps on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that will amount to a 32 percent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. Though it doesn’t explicitly tell states how to achieve that, the plan is expected to strongly encourage state or regional cap-and-trade systems in which a price is set on carbon emissions and polluters are required to buy credits to cover their activities, with the proceeds reinvested in energy efficiency, carbon-free electric generation and rate credits for consumers, among other things. Maryland and eight other northeastern states have been doing that since 2008 through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, better known as RGGI. Untangling the impact of RGGI on consumers’ electric bills would be a difficult task, given that the collaborative’s existence has coincided with the shale gas boom, which has driven down the cost of generation, and with the recession, which helped reduce demand. But it is safe to say it has not led to anything like the doomsday the president’s critics are predicting. Average electric bills in the RGGI states have declined by 8 percent since 2008 during a period when the national average bill has not changed. Whatever the cost of the pollution credits, they have been more than made up for by investments in energy efficiency…And what about the region’s economy? A third-party analysis this summer pegged RGGI’s benefits at $1.3 billion for the nine states and estimated that RGGI had created 14,000 new jobs.”The Baltimore Sun, MD, 8/3/15

“…Moreover, the plan could save consumers a lot of money on future power bills. The EPA itself expects the plan to result in a reduction in electricity bills by an average of 8 percent through investments in efficiencies and lower-cost clean power. In Montana specifically, an analysis by Synapse Energy Economics estimated an $8.2 million net benefit in energy savings.” – The Missoulian, MT, 8/3/15

“Several contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have already announced opposition to the plan, warning that it could raise utility bills for consumers in states that rely heavily on coal-fired plants. But Michigan and 34 other states have already increased renewable-energy production without unleashing the rate hikes many clean-energy foes predicted, and the Michigan-based Institute for Energy Innovation argues in a paper released last week that complying with the new rules could actually save utility customers money.” – Detroit Free Press, MI, 8/4/15

“Experience says to greet skeptically opponents’ warnings of widespread job losses, dramatic rate increases and energy disruptions. Critics of changes made to the Clean Air Act in 1990, for example, said the nation should prepare for the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and a decimated economy. Instead, the cost of cutting acid-rain emissions proved far lower than opponents said it would be — and the rules created new jobs and new technologies. There’s no reason to think the Clean Power Plan won’t spur its own innovations and produce its own net job gains. And rather than cause electric bills to go up, the plan could lower them, according to report released in July by Synapse Energy Economics.”
Austin American-Statesman, TX, 8/7/15

Health benefits

“For New Jersey to comply with the new rules, it not only will have to curb carbon pollution from power plants, but also greatly expand its efforts to promote renewable sources of electricity like solar and wind. That’s a good thing… Gina McCarthy, administrator of the EPA, says the plan would cost $8.4 billion with total health and environmental benefits expected to be $34 billion to $54 billion. Those savings, and those environmental and health benefits, make it a sound proposition for the nation and for New Jersey.” Asbury Park News, NJ, 8/4/2015

“In Florida, where power plants released 108 million metric tons of carbon pollution in 2013, the cuts could especially help those suffering from asthma, allergies and other illnesses. With Tampa, Miami and other Florida cities already experiencing a surge in the number of 95-degree days, removing these pollutants will result in cleaner air for people, livestock and crops.” Tampa Bay Times, FL, 8/3/15

“The laudable goals are healthier air, a lowered risk of climate change and less costly long-term costs of producing power to run America.”Kansas City Star, 8/3/15

This is not a liberal or conservative issue – it’s a do or die issue… The EPA plan is beneficial without being draconian. The EPA says its plan will not only cut carbon pollution from the power sector, but “will also reduce pollutants that contribute to the soot and smog that make people sick by over 25 percent.” Those health and climate benefits, the EPA estimates, will be worth at least $53 billion a year by 2030. By comparison, the annual cost of complying with the plan will cost between $7.3 billion and $8.8 billion. Experience has refuted the false alarms about “Obamacare.” It will do the same with the dire warnings about “ObamaAir.”News & Observer, NC, 8/4/2015

“The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the whole program will cost about $8.4 billion, but it says that will be repaid many times over with prevention of property damage and health problems — among other things — that would occur if global warming continued unchecked. That could well be true; it’s hard to gauge the cost of global warming with real confidence. But those savings will be of little comfort now to senior citizens and working-class families who will see their electricity bills rise. Yet this has to be done. More important than the dollar amount are the greater losses of life, home and habitat expected to result from rising seas, weather catastrophes and changes in the environment that will affect the ability to grow food or keep wildlife from extinction.” Los Angeles Times, 8/7/15

“We’d prefer to know with more certainty what the risks are to the planet and what the economic costs and benefits of aggressive action will be. But we can’t know for certain. We can only combine science and common sense and say the right path is to clean up industrialization’s awful mess in the skies and present future generations with a healthier Earth.The Chicago Tribune, 8/3/15

A shift to cleaner power sources also will have many health benefits. State and federal policies that support wind energy have always enjoyed bipartisan support in Iowa, and so too should the Clean Power Plan. It’s a sensible and flexible approach to protecting the health of our kids and communities, while creating new job opportunities in Iowa’s rapidly expanding clean energy economy.” The Gazette, IA, 8/3/15

We can keep the lights with renewables

“…[U]tilities are diversifying into renewable energy sources, including wind and solar. Indeed, Iowa is already at least halfway to meeting the EPA 2030 goal in part due to the strong support for wind generation in this state. Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy says it plans to have a total of 4,000 megawatts of renewable generation capacity by 2017, which the company said could serve “up to 57 percent of its retail energy load.”Des Moines Register, IA, 8/3/15

Market-based solutions

Conservatives should be cheering, not fighting this approach. The targets are attainable, and free-market advocates should like a plan built on choices and options…The best part of the plan is that states and utilities will be allowed to customize solutions instead of being forced into a single federal remedy. States are free to cap carbon emissions, expand renewable energy sources or even collaborate. States also have until 2022, two years longer than initially proposed, to begin phasing in pollution cuts to ease the impact of the transition. What is overreaching about a plan that allows each state to decide how best to proceed and gives them 15 years to reach the targets?” The Dallas Morning News, 8/4/15

“President Obama unveiled the final version of his signature climate change policy Monday, to aggressive attack and enthusiastic cheering. The cheering is on target: Mr. Obama’s Clean Power Plan will be the single largest action the country has taken to combat global warming. It sets an important example for other nations; draft rules on the table before Monday already had helped galvanize climate commitments from other major polluting nations… Most important, the president’s plan encourages states to create rudimentary market-based emissions programs in which companies can buy and sell pollution credits. This is the most efficient way to reduce pollution, ensuring that emissions cuts happen where they are cheapest to attain. States could join interstate greenhouse-gas trading blocs or they could allow companies within their borders to participate in interstate trading without such a formal move. State leaders should look at these options and begin talks with each other sooner rather than later.” The Washington Post, 8/3/2015

“Ohio, the fifth-largest carbon polluter in the country, will have to reduce its emissions 28 percent below 2012 levels by 2030 — a smaller reduction than many other states will be held to. State regulators will be allowed to create their own plan to achieve that goal, choosing from options such as increasing renewable energy production and trading emissions credits with other states, a market-based system that has drawn bipartisan support.”Toledo Blade, OH, 8/5/2015

“With Monday’s announcement by the Obama administration that it is unveiling a Clean Power Plan, we find it encouraging we finally have a strategy that’s right for our environment and our economy. In fact, the plan by the Environmental Protection Agency, which outlines the first national standards for reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants, actually encourages states to work together to reduce carbon emissions on a national scale. The Clean Power Plan sets the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, requiring each state to create its own plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels, by 2030. Climate change deniers are now faced with a very public indictment that works with public opinion and against them.”Times Argus, VT, 8/4/15

Successful companies support it

“…huge swaths of other industries that once might have been right there with the US Chamber of Commerce and coal companies in fighting new regulations are now competing to have the greenest image. That’s partly because of behind-the-scenes work by Boston-based Ceres. The nonprofit has worked for a quarter-century to convince big businesses to adopt sustainability as a guiding principle. Ceres greeted Obama’s plan with a letter of support signed by 365 companies, including Unilever, Nestle, General Mills, and Staples. Companies such as UPS, Cisco Systems, PepsiCo, United Continental, and General Motors now boast tens of millions of dollars of savings just by meeting their own energy targets.”Boston Globe, 8/6/15

“Others have dug out shopworn fears of a federal power grab or raised unsubstantiated concerns about soaring energy costs that will force businesses to shutter but support for the new regulations from many large firms — among them, Minnesota’s General Mills — undercuts this concern. While it’s too soon to have detailed cost information about the impact on energy prices, federal analysis suggests that prices for energy users will rise in years ahead but ultimately will result in utility-bill savings at the end of the next decade.”Star Tribune, MN, 8/4/2015

At least 29 companies — including Wal-Mart, Walt Disney, Exxon Mobil and General Electric — now factor the likelihood of carbon regulation into their long-range plans. Many former military officials say humanitarian disasters, destabilized governments and other national security threats could result from further inaction on climate change. These aren’t ideological environmentalists. These are people and companies who recognize the calamities that could come from doing nothing. Texas would be foolish to fight these modest rules. The state has impressive wind power and natural gas assets, and can do more to encourage energy efficiency and power plant improvements to reach its goals. Warns John Fainter, president of the Texas Association of Electric Companies: “You’re better off being at the table than having the [EPA] come down with a federal plan.” He’s right. Besides, courts have upheld the EPA’s authority to regulate in this area, and politically motivated lawsuits would not benefit the state. Texas must bury the old, tired canards and take advantage of this opportunity to shape a competitive energy future.”Dallas Morning News, 8/4/15

The overwhelming support from newspapers again show the Clean Power Plan is an exciting opportunity to keep our air clean and by using wind energy to help us get there, we can keep the lights on and keep more money in the pockets of Americans.