On Monday, President Obama took another step towards fighting climate change as his administration announced a new EPA Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants by 30% below 2005 levels by the year 2030.
We applaud the President’s commitment to fighting climate change and creating a healthier and safer environment for our children. Capping carbon emissions is critical to the health of our communities, particularly children of color who are more likely to grow up breathing in the toxins from these very coal plants. The EPA’s ruling provides flexibility for states to innovate ways in addressing air pollution from making plants efficient and producing more renewable energy to enacting broader policies such as carbon taxes or the very popular cap and trade.
While the move is deemed historic, we cannot stop here. Fighting climate change through carbon reduction alone will not solve the challenges climate change creates. As we discussed last month, inequity drives climate change, therefore, we need solutions that tackle both inequity and carbon.
How the EPA’s rules are implemented will matter greatly and they must include the participation and voices of communities most impacted by coal. But if we rely on the implementation strategies such as “cap and trade,” we will fail to address inequity. For example, the Center for Race Poverty and the Environment has found that “Cap and Trade has a disproportionate negative impact on communities of color because those communities do not receive the benefits of on site-reductions when major polluters buy pollution reductions from somewhere else”.
Therefore, we need a cap and invest strategy to implement these rulings, where we reduce the carbon and invest in communities abilities to own, produce, and generate renewable energy that can spur a healthy economy and a cleaner environment. States are at the foundation of implementing how these rules take place.
They need to get it right.
Today, we offer a policy concept called Energy Investment Districts. Energy Investment Districts (EIDs) is a policy idea at the state, county or municipal level makes geographic areas that have suffered environmental and economic hardships eligible for funding and other financial and technical support for community-scale energy efficiency and renewable generation projects.
EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy is right, “We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.”
Together lets push for policies that will truly create opportunities for both.