May 11, 2023
WASHINGTON— Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their proposal to set enforceable carbon pollution limits for new and existing coal and gas power plants. Power plants are the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and these rules are a critical regulatory lever in the Biden Administration's toolbox to reach the climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 50 percent by 2030 and achieving 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2050. In addition to contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, fossil-fuel power plants are a large source of air pollution disproportionately affecting the health and welfare of communities of color. Nationwide, Latino/a/e children are more likely to have asthma, and those with asthma are almost twice as likely to die from an asthma attack than non-Latino/a/e white children. Rules addressing this significant pollution source are imperative to protect communities on the frontlines.
However, the inclusion of unproven technologies that have a strong potential to harm our communities remains a concern for many who are at the frontlines of the climate and air pollution crisis. This rule places the onus on states to reduce power plant emissions by 90% between 2035 and 2045 by either retiring plants or utilizing carbon removal technologies like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) or hydrogen blending with gas. For years, environmental justice communities in this country have warned that such nascent and unproven solutions have the potential to fail, add additional industrial infrastructure in their communities, and extend the life of the fossil fuel industry.
We believe the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) made historic investments in our country’s transition to a just, clean energy economy and it is time to put those to work. While today’s standards are critical in decarbonizing our economy, we urge the Biden Administration and states to capitalize on the IRA clean energy incentives and use every tool in their toolbox to reduce emissions from the power sector by ramping up 100% renewable energy sources like wind and solar, paired with battery storage rather than relying on potentially harmful technologies.
Mark Magaña, GreenLatinos Founding President and CEO, released the following statement:
“The release of EPA’s standards to address carbon pollution from fossil fuel production is an important step toward our effort to stave off the worst effects of the climate crisis. While the Supreme Court case West Virginia v. EPA limited the agency’s authority in this area, they are still obligated to produce the strongest rules possible to reduce carbon pollution within their legal purview. While we believe these rules will have an overall positive impact on the health and safety of Latino/a/e communities across the country, especially those living near power plants, we must ensure that the transition to a clean energy economy is done justly and does not perpetuate the historical patterns of environmental injustices from the fossil fuel industry.
We want to call attention to the potential adverse harms that CCS and other nascent fossil-based technologies like hydrogen can have within communities that have already borne the brunt of carbon pollution. We emphasize the need for continued consultation and engagement with fenceline communities and the inclusion of strong community guardrails around CCS. This includes ensuring any such projects are held to the highest health and safety standards, lead to permanent sequestration without leaks or damaging earthquakes, include continuous monitoring and verification and do not present additional harms to nearby communities. We also urge the Administration to continue facilitating the systems necessary to quickly deploy 100% renewable energy so power plants are retired and replaced with clean sources like solar and wind as the main avenue to reduce carbon pollution. The new standards will define the trajectory of carbon emissions in our country, and as such, we call on the EPA to ensure these standards are finalized with equity and justice at the center including meaningful, sustained engagement with frontline communities in EPA proceedings and throughout the implementation process.”
GreenLatinos (NOTE: GreenLatinos is ONE WORD) is an active comunidad of Latino/a/e leaders, emboldened by the power and wisdom of our culture, united to demand equity and dismantle racism, resourced to win our environmental, conservation, and climate justice battles, and driven to secure our political, economic, cultural, and environmental liberation.