IBEW leaders pledged to carefully review President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which sets a goal of dramatically reducing carbon emissions from America’s power plants.
The plan, announced August 3rd by the president and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, calls for a 32 percent reduction in emissions at existing power plants by 2030, an increase of 2 percent over the draft levels released last June.
At the time of last year’s draft, IBEW leaders said the plan “substituted wishful thinking for reality, threatening grid reliability and good jobs.”
“Today,” said IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson, “we still have many of the same concerns.”
“America needs a genuinely balanced energy policy,” the IBEW said in a statement, “one that combats climate change while ensuring reliability and protecting good energy jobs.”
The Obama plan, however, faced dozens of potential legal challenges even before it was released.
Last month, 14 states joined a lawsuit seeking to block the rule, four weeks before it even became official policy.
And in June, the Supreme Court blocked a similar EPA rule aimed at cutting mercury emissions from coal power plants, a signal the court could do the same with the latest restrictions.
For its part, the IBEW welcomed several changes EPA regulators implemented after input from union officials.
Those changes include an extended, flexible deadline for states to meet implementation plans, credits for zero-carbon nuclear power in meeting environmental targets, and a “safety valve” that protects existing coal plants critical to power grid reliability.
The union also noted that agency regulation alone cannot create a sustainable energy policy.
That, it said, “must come from Congress, crafted by a bipartisan coalition with full input from experts and industry stakeholders.”
“We will continue to press lawmakers to develop a long-term plan to protect energy jobs and maintain reliability and service for customers across the nation,” Stephenson said.