Date of this Version
Op-Ed from ENSC 230. Energy and the Environment: Economics and Policy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Agricultural Economics, Fall 2015
The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is a long overdue policy which is necessary to direct national investment in emerging markets and create an intelligent energy infrastructure that strives to operate at max efficiency. To this point, the US has developed using inefficient and dirty fuels, a method which allowed for cheap and reliable energy generation, but is largely responsible for the change in global climate. If we expect to prevent climate change, our energy infrastructure must be reformed. Countries like Denmark have led the way in energy reform by creating policies set to reach 100% renewable generation by 2050 (8). This ambitious endeavor solidifies Denmark’s commitment towards fostering innovation by creating long term investments in the energy market. They are not the only ones; the International Energy Agency list 29 countries with adjustments to their energy policy, all with a similar goal: combat the harmful effects of GHG emissions (6). Now is the time for the US to join the movement, especially considering we account for around 17% of total carbon emissions (5). Despite the damning evidence, many still believe that the US should proceed without an energy policy. Much of the criticism of the CPP stems from the legality of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcing regulations on the energy sector and its disregard for the economic effects on coal intensive states. For these reasons, two coal companies and 14 states are challenging the ruling (12). But, the EPA is required by Congress to regulate pollutants such as CO2 stated in Section 111b of the Clean Air Act. As for the dying coal industry, jobs and sales are already on the decline, not to mention over 60% of coal plants are reaching the end of their useful life (11). It would be ignorant not to take measures to replace coal with more efficient sources which are becoming increasingly cost competitive and pose fewer risks. To ensure the ability of the CPP to facilitate this movement, congress should pass it as a law which would prevent special interest lobbyist (or candidates support by) from eliminating said regulations.