New Carbon Rules Create Rural Opportunity

Lyons, Nebraska - Today, the Obama Administration announced their intention to take aggressive action to fight climate change through a proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that would cut carbon pollution from the nation's existing coal-fired power plants by 30 percent by 2030. The proposed reduction from 2005 carbon emission levels is one of the strongest actions ever taken by the United States to address climate change.

"We have a moral obligation to protect our children and generations to come from the impacts of climate change," said Johnathan Hladik, Senior Advocate for Energy Policy at the Center for Rural Affairs. "Carbon pollution fuels climate change, contributing to more frequent, destructive, costly and deadly drought and extreme weather events. Rural and small town Americans have already witnessed these challenges, first-hand, and the threat to jobs and quality of life that accompany them."

Additionally, carbon pollution worsens air quality, triggers more asthma and respiratory disease, and drives up healthcare costs. This is true all across America, from small towns to coastal cities, Hladik added. All of these threats argue in favor of establishing America's first limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

According to Hladik, coal-fired power plants are responsible for 30 percent of the carbon pollution in the U.S., the nation's single largest source. Therefore, establishing carbon pollution standards for these plants is both reasonable and an essential step in addressing climate change.

"Moreover, the switch to low-carbon technologies has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in the small towns and rural areas that are home to our most abundant renewable resources," Hladik explained. "Limiting carbon will help continue America's dramatic shift toward wind energy and other renewable sources. These new, clean energy technologies that produce less carbon can and will create exciting new economic opportunities."

Hladik also pointed out that in a nationally representative survey conducted last month, by a nearly two to one margin, Americans support setting strict limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, even if the cost of electricity to consumers increases. The polling further demonstrates Americans are tired of dirty air, outdated solutions and expensive consequences.

"Each time an extreme weather event hits a community around the country, the economic impact can be dire," continued Hladik. From 2011 to 2013 alone, damages from extreme weather events have exceeded a cost of $200 billion. We can do better than this."

Establishing the nation's first-ever carbon pollution standards is the most fiscally responsible course of action, concluded Hladik.

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