(Adds confirmation of proposed targets, details of expected
By Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON, June 1 The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency plans on Monday to propose a 30 percent cut in
carbon dioxide emissions from the country's existing power
plants by 2030, people briefed on the proposal told Reuters.
Word of some of the proposal's components came before
Monday's unveiling by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. They mark
the most sweeping and significant environmental regulations
introduced by the Obama administration.
Although states will be given different targets to meet
depending on the carbon intensity of their current power plants,
the power sector would need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
by 25 percent on average by 2020 and hit the 30 percent target
10 years later, the sources said.
The proposed reductions would be based on 2005 emissions,
the baseline the White House used to set a global goal to slash
greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020.
The target was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on
Sunday. The White House and the EPA declined to confirm or
comment on the rules before they are released.
Several lawmakers were briefed on the proposal on Sunday,
including Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and
Edward Markey of Massachusetts, two of the Senate's biggest
supporters of measures to address global warming.
One industry source said the agency had wrestled with which
year to set as the baseline for the pollution cuts.
Energy-related carbon emissions fell after 2008 because of
a shift toward cleaner-burning natural gas and away from
coal-fired plants, and the severe economic downturn.
Emissions in 2013 were already slightly more than 10 percent
below 2005 levels, according to the Energy Information
Administration, meaning the United States is already well down
the road to meeting to new targets.
CASTING IT AS PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE
The EPA will likely give states a range of options to meet
the target, and may establish different timelines to allow
states that are heavy users of coal - Kentucky and West
Virginia, for example - to catch up, sources have said.
As well as improving the energy efficiency of their power
plants and using more zero-carbon electricity sources such as
nuclear and renewables, states are expected to be allowed by the
EPA to use emissions trading systems to comply.
States like California and nine Northeastern states have
been using carbon markets to cut emissions for several years.
Facing opposition from some state governments, the coal
industry and pro-business groups like the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce, the administration has cast the regulations as a
public health issue.
The United States had to do more to help children suffering
from asthma and other related ailments, President Barack Obama
said on Saturday in his weekly radio address.
Obama will participate in a conference call on Monday with
health groups hosted by the American Lung Association to discuss
the regulations, before leaving Washington for a trip to Europe.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Jeff Mason,; Additional
reporting by Mark Felsenthal Editing by Ros Krasny, Jim Loney
and Peter Cooney)