With the rollout of its new “Clean Power Plan,” the Obama administration is set to place the first federal limits on the amount of carbon that power plants can release into the air. While the plan will be advanced by the Environment Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act, it is still expected to face heavy opposition in Congress.
The EPA will give each state its own emissions reduction goal as part of the plan and it will be up to the state government to make the necessary cuts. The nationwide goal is to drop carbon dioxide emissions from American power plants 32 percent below their 2005 levels by 2030.
Three University of Virginia faculty members can provide insight into the environmental, legal and public policy impacts of this new plan.
- Jonathan Cannon
Blaine T. Phillips Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law; Director, Environmental and Land Use Law Program
Areas of expertise: environmental and land use regulation, Supreme Court environmental decisions and design and implementation of regional and national programs.
Cannon directs the U.Va. School of Law’s Environmental and Land Use Law Program. Prior to joining the University’s faculty, he served as the EPA’s general counsel.
“The President’s Clean Power Plan is an important step if the United States and the international community are to make progress toward mitigating climate change. The plan rests on a defensible interpretation of the EPA’s existing authority under the Clean Air Act, and is a logical extension of the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA. It puts the U.S. on a path to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and in a leadership role to encourage reductions by other nations,” Cannon said.
- Deborah Lawrence
Professor of Environmental Science
Areas of expertise: climate change and deforestation
Lawrence served as science adviser to the State Department’s Office of Environment and Global Change from 2009 to 2010.
“The Clean Power Plan is an opportunity for Virginia to move forward on clean energy. It provides certainty about where we need to go and flexibility about how to get there, including working with neighboring states to lower costs,” she said. “Virginia is lucky in that we have already begun taking much-needed steps to improve our electricity generation system. The Clean Power Plan will help us go further, providing a cleaner environment for Virginians, a healthier planet and a chance for a vibrant green economy.”
- Bill Shobe
Professor of Public Policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; Adjunct Professor of Economics; Director, Center for Economic and Policy Studies at U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
Areas of expertise: Environmental economics and policy
Shobe is a professor of public policy and economics, and directs the Center for Economic and Policy Students at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
“Virginia lags well behind North Carolina and Maryland in its investment in renewable energy,” he said. “Solar electricity, in particular, has become cheap enough that it should be part of any reasonable plan for Virginia’s energy future. Along with a modest increase in our energy efficiency efforts, a relatively small investment in solar and wind energy will bring us into compliance with the new limits.”