The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced draft rules that are predicted to reduce heat-trapping pollution from power plants by 30 percent from the levels recorded in 2005 by 2030.
The regulation, called Clean Power Plan, is scheduled to be finalized in mid-2015 and is the strongest action by the EPA to date to tackle climate change. The ultimate goal of the proposal is not just to address climate change, but to ensure U.S. public health is protected and the country is moving toward a cleaner environment, the agency said. It is estimated that once the rules have been implemented, between 2,700 and 6,600 premature deaths and about 150,000 asthma attacks will be prevented each year.
Currently, more than one-third of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from power plants, according to the EPA. Most of these emissions come from outdated coal-fired plants but the regulation will also cover natural-gas-fueled power plants, which account for about half of the emissions of the coal-fired ones.
Once the rules have been finalized next year, each individual state will have a year to set up their own targets for reduction via upgrading plants, switching to natural gas or improving energy efficiency. This approach will allow states to be more flexible and meet their own needs. If they fail to do so, federal targets will be imposed.