Countless studies have shown that when it comes to the man-made effects on “climate change,” most average individuals feel that there is little they can do to reverse the damage caused by big corporations and electric companies. That is exactly why President Barack Obama’s “clean energy plan,” released Aug. 3 by the Environmental Protection Agency, is such a significant policy announcement.
By 2030, the plan aims to cut power generation plant carbon emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels. In a speech announcing the plan, Obama said, “We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change, and the last generation to be able to do something about it.”
In this plan, each state is tasked with coming up with its own program to control emissions within its borders and have until Aug. 3 to file that plan with the EPA.
Obama called taking a stand against climate change a “moral obligation,” brushing off the notion that the plan is a “War on Coal” that will kill jobs. Instead, he said, he is reinvesting in areas of the U.S. known as “coal country.” However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a huge coal-producing state, is calling on the nation’s governors to refuse to comply with the EPA regulations. The attorney general of West Virginia has also stated that he intends to challenge the plan; more than a dozen states also are said to be preparing legal challenges.
An inquiry to Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt regarding the clean energy plan resulted in an email reply from a spokesperson stating, “The AG’s office will be reviewing the rules. Consistent with our office policy, we don’t comment on future litigation plans.”
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has long been a supporter of clean energy projects and, since taking office in 2011, the state has approved 21 tax abatement applications, which include large-scale solar PV, solar thermal, biomass, geothermal, and wind projects throughout the state and is not expected to follow suit with other Republican governors.
In Las Vegas, the EPA announcement has generated a flood of emails from environmental activists and support groups such as the Sierra Club.
The Clean Energy Project Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that lobbies for a clean energy economy, has for the past couple of years been active in encouraging local businesses to reduce their carbon footprint by pledging to reduce energy consumption.
During a clean energy plan support rally at Las Vegas City Hall on Aug. 3, Jennifer Taylor, executive director of Clean Energy Project, stated that, “Nevada’s clean power plan will propel the state to the next level of renewable energy development, green investment, and job growth, and continue Nevada’s national clean energy leadership. Nevada’s climate, location and past bipartisan policy efforts have well positioned our state to not only provide Nevada homegrown, affordable renewable energy, but also to attract additional renewable energy projects that will define the regional market and generate energy for exportation to neighboring states.”
Also speaking at the rally was James Woodruff, vice president of state and local government affairs for First Solar, a company that builds and operates utility-scale solar energy projects around the U.S. In Nevada, First Solar is producing 200 megawatts of power in four locations, has another 558 megawatts under construction, and is in the development stage for an additional 500 megawatts, including the recently announced Switch Station Solar Project at Apex.
The targets for Nevada and other states are based on the pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour of generated electricity. But despite the amount of solar and thermal energy being produced and on the drawing board in Nevada, the state is projected to be behind the curve on meeting its annual target reductions until 2026 when the state is expected to produce 582 pounds of CO2 emissions to slide under the EPA goal of 677. By 2030, it is projected that Nevada will be below the EPA goal of 647 with a production of 528 pounds of CO2 emissions.
In Washington, political pundits are likening the clean energy plan to Obamacare and expect this to play out in the courts for the next several years.