States Provide EPA with a Roadmap for Cutting Carbon Pollution

December 16, 2013

In a letter to the EPA, state environment and energy leaders from 15 states—including midwest and mountain states like Minnesota, Illinois and Colorado—urged the federal agency to allow states to use their broad clean energy and climate approaches to meet upcoming carbon pollution reduction requirements.  They also encouraged the federal agency to develop equitable and measurable standards that will hold states accountable for their progress.

Participating states are CA, CO, CT, DE, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NY, OR, RI, VT and WA. 

Officials from the 15 states say their diverse approaches to reducing greenhouse gases have already resulted in a 20 percent cut in carbon pollution from the power sector in their states during the last seven years alone, demonstrating the kind of reductions that are possible. Many individual states have achieved even greater reductions in carbon pollution in that time period, in the range of 30 to 46 percent.

In the letter sent Dec. 16, 2013, state officials urged the EPA to set federal standards based on what can be achieved by taking a comprehensive approach to improving the power system as a whole, rather than by regulating carbon pollution at each individual power plant. The letter also includes a detailed survey of 12 of these states’ nation-leading programs and policies to reduce greenhouse gases while growing their economies, and demonstrates the level of reductions that can be achieved on a national basis.

The states submitted these comments to the EPA for consideration as the agency develops guidelines for state programs to reduce carbon pollution from power plants under Clean Air Act section 111(d).  The EPA’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution remain one of the biggest keys to the success of President Obama’s climate plan.

In the letter, state officials urged the EPA to:

  • Establish a significant emissions reduction standard based on a system that reflects the full range of approaches that states have successfully demonstrated can cost-effectively reduce carbon pollution from the electricity system as a whole.
  • Establish the form of the federal emission guideline in a way that equitably recognizes the multiple starting points and circumstances of different states, including pollution reductions already achieved by states through climate and clean energy programs.
  • Place all states on a trajectory to reach final targets of comparable rigor but allow for a variety of state compliance options, including the use of existing state programs such as renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency standards, and state or regional carbon pollution caps with market-based components.

This letter and the states’ dialogue that led to it was facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center.  The group of states has been meeting since June 2013.