Big Bend Power Station near Apollo Beach, Florida. Credit: Wknight94

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented a big shift in U.S climate policy when they announced that they will introduce regulations to significantly reduce carbon emissions with a new goal in sight.

The environment ministry’s new goal is to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030, based on the levels of 2005. This is probably the biggest shift in U.S. environmental policy since the Environmental Protection Agency was founded in 1970.

The new regulations are specifically directed at the United States over 600 coal plants. These power plants account for the majority of carbon emissions in the United States. The energy companies, however, argue that such regulations could harm the economy and increase unemployment.

A recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce states that such regulations will lead to an annual reduction in U.S. GDP of $ 50 billion. The EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy states that the regulations are not only good for the environment but also strengthens the economy and makes U.S. population healthier; “Climate policy reforms do not make the United States less competitive but on the contrary. It encourages ingenuity and innovation.”

EPA states that the regulations will increase energy efficiency, causing energy costs for U.S. consumers to fall in the long run. They also estimate that between 2,700 and 6,600 deaths and more than 140,000 asthma attacks will be avoided.

This action will surely not halt increasing world CO2 levels in the atmosphere by its own. With China as the world’s largest emitter of carbon pollution and many developing countries resistant to disturbing economic growth. The new regulations and their effect might, however, give the U.S. the credibility and moral authority it needs as the world’s largest economy, to put pressure on China and India to make changes of their own.

EPA Proposes First Guidelines to Cut Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants