The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new carbon rule released on Monday, June 2nd will result in a 30% reduction from 2005 levels in nationwide power plant carbon emissions by 2030. The new rule outlines state-by-state reductions that cumulatively result in the 30% reduction. For Missouri, this means a 21% reduction from our 2012 emission levels, which would help us prevent over 15 million metric tons of harmful carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere and disrupting our global climate system.
This is an attainable goal for Missouri and a first step in addressing carbon pollution and climate change, and we will urge the EPA to consider a more stringent standard for Missouri when it finalizes this rule to help the state capture its true carbon reduction potential. Missouri power plants released 87 million tons of carbon pollution in 2011, equal to the annual emissions of 18 million cars. This figure ranks Missouri as the 8th highest carbon emitter in the nation. As a state dependent on coal for 80% of our electricity, we have ample opportunities to increase our energy efficiency numbers and our usage of renewable energy sources. Missouri has already made great strides in growing and promoting the solar industry. We have the technology and manufacturing capability and are producing parts for wind turbines here in Missouri.
All of the coal burned in Missouri is imported from other states, draining over $1.4billion per year from our state’s economy and our household budgets. Switching away from fossil fuels to renewable sources and ramping up efficiency efforts can create thousands of new jobs in Missouri. By the end of 2014, the Missouri solar industry will have created more than 3,700 jobs and added $415 million to the state’s economy. Another 3,900 jobs could be created by putting people to work in energy efficiency, according to a recent analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council. We have only scratched the surface of what is possible with gains from energy efficiency. Missouri can reach this 21 % reduction and go even further. Limiting our carbon emissions sets Missouri up for increased job growth, fewer hospital visits, and a more stable comate, which benefit all Missourians.
Increased temperatures are real. The Union of Concerned Scientists evaluated temperatures over the last 60 years for the Midwest and St.Louis and found heatwaves have increased. Asthma rates are higher in Missouri, especially in St. Louis than in many other parts of the country. In 2011, there were more than 7,700 hospital admissions for asthma, with an average cost of $14,300 for each stay. A known irritant for asthma sufferers is ozone, which increases with higher temperatures. St. Louis has exceeded the limits for ground level ozone every year that the limit has been in effect. Children are particularly vulnerable to asthma, especially in the hot summer months. By limiting the carbon we pump into the air we are helping more children breathe easy and enjoy the outdoors. Continuing with a coal-heavy approach puts the health of Missouri’s children on the line. in frequency, intensity, and duration. Heatwaves have direct impacts on our health, our crops, and our livelihoods.
Hazardous weather in 2011 was responsible for the deaths of 180 people and caused $3.26 billion in damage to property and crops. Drenching rainstorms broke precipitation records in 17 counties. Even though warmer temperatures mean a longer growing season, the National Climate Assessment predicts that crops such as corn and soybeans will be devastated by more frequent late spring freezes. If we do not act quickly to limit our carbon emissions and address climate change, the Missouri we pass along to the next generation will be drastically different than the one we know today. Continuing to burn fossil fuels threatens Missouri’s expansive oak-hickory forests and endangers our water resources. Increased temperatures will shift what species can survive in the Midwest and increased flooding will exacerbate erosion and runoff into our streams and rivers.
This rule signals a transition from our reliance on dirty, unhealthy carbon dioxide emissions and will move Missouri forward into a healthier and cleaner future. As a society, we have a moral obligation to the next generation to pass along a livable planet. We know that without action we are setting our grandchildren up for a future of dangerous temperatures, massive crop losses, increased storms, flooding, and higher health costs. These changes are already happening now. The new carbon limits are an opportunity to create a better Missouri. The 21% reduction appears to be based on the EPA’s overly- conservative estimates of what is possible in Missouri given our current infrastructure and resources, rather than what science tells us we really need in order to stabilize our climate. We are pleased there will finally be standards to limit dangerous carbon pollution and we will continue to challenge our elected officials to not just meet the minimum standards but to go beyond with even stronger reductions based on what is best for our human and environmental health. Together we can make Missouri a leader in reducing carbon pollution and transitioning to a renewable, energy efficient economy that protects our health and our state for generations to come.
For More Information:
Contact: Melissa Vatterott, Climate Outreach Coordinator, 314.727.0600 x. 111
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Read the latest NRDC report on jobs and energy savings Missouri stands to gain with effective carbon pollution limits.
See how Missouri fared in the National Climate Assessment.