Dec. 5, 2016 by Alice Kaswan

With or Without the Clean Power Plan, It's Up to the States to Transition to Clean Energy

Environmentalists are understandably wringing their hands over the likely post-election demise of the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, which are the nation's single biggest source of carbon emissions. But, with or without the Clean Power Plan (the Plan), the states hold the cards to a clean energy transition. 

Even if the fossil fuel interests intent upon perpetuating a profitable status quo end up dominating Congress and federal energy and environmental agencies, states will still have the power to steer the energy sector away from fossil fuels. By promoting renewable energy, like solar and wind power, and by promoting energy efficiency, states can and should lead the way. In so doing, they can transform the energy sector from a system that benefits vested fossil fuel interests and toward a sustainable infrastructure that benefits everyone through new jobs, cleaner air, and reduced risks from climate change. 

To be sure, the Clean Power Plan was an important initiative, and losing it will be a blow to national climate policy. Its most important feature was its recognition that reducing emissions from sources requires more than tinkering with pollution controls at existing power …

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