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NRDC: Pennsylvania on Target to Meet EPA Carbon Pollution Limits with Clean Energy and Efficiency



HARRISBURG (August 20, 2015) – Pennsylvania can strike a blow against climate change and meet its new federal target for cutting power plant carbon pollution by advancing wind and solar power, boosting energy efficiency and adopting complementary policies to help low-income communities, a new issue brief by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows.


With planned coal plant retirements and clean energy growth, Pennsylvania is on track to meet most of the goals for cutting power plant carbon pollution under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s newly finalized Clean Power Plan, NRDC shows.


The Keystone State can close the final gap by boosting energy efficiency savings to 2 percent of consumption annually, and elevating renewable wind and solar energy in the state’s “alternative energy” portfolio. And it can do so without an overreliance on carbon-intensive natural gas.


“Pennsylvania already has a solid foundation of clean energy policies that help its families, the environment, and our economy. By modestly expanding these policies, we can reach the EPA’s carbon pollution reduction target,” said Mark Szybist, senior program advocate at NRDC and a native of Williamsport, PA. “Governor Wolf and state leaders should seize this moment and draft a strong state plan that cuts carbon, helps expand wind and solar energy, reduces energy waste, creates jobs and grows our economy. With climate change already impacting Pennsylvania, it’s time we act now.”


NRDC prepared the issue brief for the public and policymakers who will be examining options for Pennsylvania as it works to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Governor Tom Wolf has said he’s committed to reducing carbon pollution from the state’s power plants. He has also included clean energy measures in his proposed 2015-16 budget that could help the state the meet the goals.


NRDC’s issue brief profiles the state’s current sources that produce electricity—wind, solar, coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear power— and changes to its energy mix that could occur to meet the Clean Power Plan requirements. Under a “mass-based” approach—reducing total tonnage—the EPA has given Pennsylvania a goal of reducing power plant carbon pollution from 116.7 million tons (the total emitted in 2012) to 90.9 million tons in 2030.


The pathways outlined in the issue brief were identified to show that EPA’s carbon pollution limits are readily achievable for Pennsylvania. NRDC believes that a more ambitious transition to clean energy is feasible for Pennsylvania and will bring large added health, environmental and economic benefits.


Under Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act of 2004, alternative energy sources will produce 18 percent of the state’s energy by 2020, but more of this energy needs to come from solar and wind energy, according to NRDC.


Likewise, Act 129, the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency program that requires large investor-owned utilities to reduce energy waste, could be beefed-up to bring in more energy and financial savings.


The issue brief also addresses the possibility of Pennsylvania joining neighboring states to curb carbon pollution within a regional framework that could help promote reliability of the state’s energy supply.



A blog on this issue by Szybist is here:


NRDC’s issue brief, “Pennsylvania’s Pathway to Cutting Carbon Pollution,” is here:


NRDC also has prepared a resource book, “Clean Power: the Case for Carbon Pollution Limits.” It is here:




The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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