U.S. EPA chief: Carbon rules to lower consumer bills
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON, June 12 (Reuters) - Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy said on Thursday that newly proposed rules to slash carbon emissions from U.S. power plants will cut electricity bills after 2030 by forcing power plants to become more efficient.
Speaking at a forum on energy efficiency in Washington, which she likened to "preaching to the choir," McCarthy took issue with critics' claims that the EPA's clean power plan will cause consumer electricity prices to skyrocket, in part by forcing older coal-fired plants to close.
The rule, subject to a 120-day comment period, will steer investment toward renewable energy and energy efficiency companies, she said.
"I think we are going to help energy efficiency and renewable energy to get the kind of private investment we know (the industry has) deserved for a very long time," McCarthy said.
The EPA's guidelines, unveiled on June 2, proposed cutting overall U.S. carbon pollution from the power sector 30 percent by 2030 from a 2005 baseline. Each state has been assigned its own target to reduce the rate at which it pumps out carbon per megawatt of energy produced.
The proposal calls on states to draw up their own plans to achieve the reduction using measures ranging from making power plants more efficient, switching from coal to natural gas, ramping up zero-carbon energy, including nuclear, and using mechanisms such as carbon trading.
McCarthy said public opinion polls taken since the rollout showed that a bipartisan majority of Americans support the federal emissions curbs and would be willing to pay for it.
A poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News published on June 2 found that 70 percent of respondents supported mandatory federal limits of greenhouse gas emissions for power plants. Continued...