A few dozen Syracuse-area residents gathered today to talk about climate change at a community roundtable today hosted by EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck.
She opened the discussion with some staggering statistics, noting that this past May was the hottest May in over 130 years of recorded temperature records. Enck said that fossil fuel power plants - those that burn coal, oil, and gas - produce about 40% of all greenhouse gas pollution. The EPA has a history of regulating other air pollutants, and now it's planing to address the greenhouse gas pollution problem.
The EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which will set limits on greenhouse gas emissions, is promoting big results. Enck says this is one of the most important announcements the EPA has made in over a generation, and she's been traveling to gather feedback from the public:
The Clean Power Plan should work in two waves: the first affects new fossil fuel plants (those in planning stages that haven't yet been built.) The second wave is meant to address existing plants. Enck says that in New York state, there are 32 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by fossil fuel power plants, like Cayuga, Huntley, Grenich and others.
44% of New York's power currently comes from burning natural gas, 3% from coal. Enck says that a measely .04% percent currently comes from solar energy - a fact that numerous people at the discussion (like Syracuse Solar) hope to change. Enck explained that when the full effect of the proposed Clean Power Plan is known, the EPA expects to see a 30% reduction in carbon pollution from fossil fuel plants. She says that's "like cancelling the carbon pollution from 2/3 of all the cars and trucks in America."
Syracuse University Professor Doctor Charles Driscoll was among researchers at the roundtable today. He says his own study reveals how additional benefits could come from the EPA’s proposal:
Under the regulation, each state must develop and submit its own plan to the EPA by June 1st 2016. The public is encouraged to voice its opinion about the plan at http://epa.gov/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule. The comment period is open until October 14th.