EPA Pushes for 30 Percent Carbon Emissions Reduction By 2030

New guidelines announce by the EPA could change the way the U.S. makes and uses electricity.
10:37 | 06/02/14

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Transcript for EPA Pushes for 30 Percent Carbon Emissions Reduction By 2030
This is a special room. Given the astronomical price that we pay for climate in action. The most costly thing of all that we can do is nothing. A sweeping new policy that could mean deep cuts. To coal power ever run down Cutler -- New York a landmark policy that could change how we make and how we use electricity in the United States. The EPA -- -- some new guidelines that would drastically cut carbon emissions. From power plants ABC's Karen tribesmen on changes and the criticism that have joined those changes. She's outside the white house with more Karen. Good afternoon -- -- Obama administration says the key here is flexibility not all states are going to be held to the exact same stand there when it comes to the admissions that they admit but of course Republicans some coal state Democrats and business groups are firing back saying. Isn't going to hurt the economy this is going to cost jobs. The president had a response -- that he said. That suggests -- in. Supporters and opponents are calling this the super bowl of climate changed the time to act is now. Today the Obama administration proposed a regulation that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plant by 30% by -- -- -- thirty. Those into the largest source of greenhouse gases in this country releasing about a third of the US carbon pollution. Sequel have at least three years to submit a plan for how they'll comply. Each State's goal is tailored to its own circumstances. -- states have the flexibility to reach the end all. In what ever way it works best for them. The Obama administration is framing this as a consumer issue one that affects every single American. Last week the president dropped by -- Children's National Medical Center here in Washington to highlight the health benefits of cutting greenhouse gases. In just the first year that these standards going to affect. Up -- a 100000. Asthma attacks. And 2100 heart attacks will be avoided. And those numbers will go -- from there. But Republicans and business groups say the new requirements will have a little impact on American jobs environmental regulations that are coming into effect. Will retire 60% of today's -- -- The chamber of commerce claims the administration's plan which shrinking economy by an estimated. 151 billion dollars cost 224000. Jobs each year -- add to consumer and. And Dan the Obama administration says those critics are just flat out wrong and -- when he thirty in the average American electric bill. We'll be lowered by 8%. And so -- -- heard from businesses and obviously some politicians about their response to this new EPA guidelines but what the American public. Dan costs are not driving public opinion -- -- it this issue a -- ABC news Washington Post poll out just this afternoon found that. Americans think climate change is such a threat that they support emissions control regulations very overwhelmingly 70% say they support what the Obama administration is rolling out today and Dan they were asked if that -- That twenty dollars more would be added to their monthly energy bill twenty dollars a -- just a hypothetical figure 63% say they still support regulations because this issue is -- -- serious. And such a -- did he -- -- the numbers a little bit more. The number of younger people that are in favor of that are much higher than the older generation and that message is clearly getting through that this is something that is going to be impacting generations to come. Everything went certainly having a voice obviously in this debate -- -- -- outside the White House for us Karen thank you so much for that. So for more on these decisions I -- to bring in Brooks mining is a research fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology -- -- university. Also featuring a writer on a sister website 538 dot com Brooks thanks for being with us we appreciate it. So and strategy these new proposals by the EPA essentially what is it -- mean for power plants what I had to do in order to meet these new guidelines. Well. The new regulations setting a cap on total amount of carbon dioxide. Each state will be permitted to -- from. Electricity generating power plants and so -- The states -- Several choices for how to bring their -- into compliance with. With the castor -- and place. The biggest effectiveness is going to be. Because coal generates more Hartmann oxide emissions per unit of electricity generated that natural gas. -- -- -- Straightforward way to lower carbon dioxide emissions also -- the same amount of electricity is to burn more natural gas last call. So could be potential shift then our power source and that but what what -- economic strain we -- -- -- been crushed exactly what this is good for power plants as far as them in able to meet these guidelines and we heard from Karen just saying that in a poll in fact. If an average person's electricity bill was raised by twenty dollars a month to meet these guidelines of -- secure percent of the American public would support that. At the same time and I mean what are the real cost so that apartments gonna have to go through. Well I'm sure. Whether it's going to be costs -- -- the level of individual power plants alone there are technologies in place for. Burning of coal to become theater by. Installing. Additional technological improvements on coal burning power plant so that. For the certain amount of coal burned there's less carbon dioxide and needed. Those technologies. Implemented. Today cut costs. But the -- for each state has -- also depend on whether it's actually more cost effective to. Shut down certain coal burning power plants altogether and replace them where natural gas burning plants the assumption is that -- Go ahead. Well that's a trend that's been happening already for many years the sort of boom in natural gas -- ability. Over the past decade to bomb two. Things like. -- has made natural gas more abundant and cheaper and therefore there's already an ongoing -- away from coal and towards natural gas. In the country and obviously each state having its own ability and its own consumption levels. On coal and and really any kind of energy this resource. How then will we make up for this deficit if in fact some plants are shut down altogether in order to meet these kinds of guidelines. Make up for the deficits in the amount of electricity available is that -- yeah. Presumably by getting it from other sources. Also states the option two. Rather then simply setting down coal plants. -- -- you know participating in cap and trade markets. Sort of leaving that existing power plants serve as they are. But -- -- being in more renewable energy projects for example. That would offset emissions in the different. You brought up fracking which I know a lot of people are debating that the the pros and cons of that type of energy production -- how would that factor into these new EPA proposals. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- And declining. Since about 2007. Or 2008 nationwide. And a big part of the reason for that is the switch from. Coal to natural gas which was not done because. There was a cap on carbon dioxide emissions in places in most states that wasn't. But because natural gas has had become cheap enough that it was actually economically. More. You know profitable then burning coal and so close. Putting -- caps in place on carbon dioxide emissions is gonna make natural gas which was already in many places economically. More. Viable -- and electricity generating -- it's -- move more and more in that direction it's gonna accelerated trend that was -- taking place for purely economic reasons OK so this is getting almost been expanded to Cap and Trade System. It seems we'll have the option to participate in cap and trade markets on there's an existing cap and trade market for nine northeastern states that -- write about in my article there's -- much -- -- cap and trade market for carbon dioxide emissions in California. That just lost within the past couple of years. -- -- -- -- option to either start new -- and trademarks of their own or Jordan some of these existing programs. How realistic then for meeting these guidelines for 2030. I think there -- plenty of time and and part of the reason they have planning time is that the baseline for this 30% reduction by. 2030. That baseline emissions -- that that there there's order is -- is the starting point that we need to how reductions drop. Was 2005. And already. 2013. Emissions. From. Power plants nationwide. Were a little more than 10% lower -- twenty their team then end 2005. So we're already 10% of the way there to decade -- the 30% reduction. So it doesn't push any immediate need to reduce carbon emissions because. We Barton done a lot that and I think that part that setting 2005 as the baseline. Can be described as I can't -- for the power industry. Because it doesn't mean that they need to reduce emissions. You know next year it -- a lot of the emission reductions RT happy for purely economic reasons. Are gonna certain -- and -- pets are. I deadline it's funny thirtieth certainly a lot of debate they'll take place between now and then Brooks minor from Cornell university and 538 dot com thanks so much for joining us -- appreciate that. This is -- ABC news digital special report and you can keep up with this story in real time by downloading ABC news -- star in this story for exclusive updates on the go. For now and Dan -- in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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