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Arizona should move forward on its Clean Power Plan

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The guest column “Why is Arizona Complying with a Costly Plan Halted by the Supreme Court?” (April 4) criticized Arizona’s decision to continue developing a state climate change implementation plan. This state plan is required by the federal Clean Power Plan, which was recently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Climate change is too serious a problem to delay. Arizona is correct in moving forward.

The Clean Power Plan is a set of Environmental Protection Agency regulations promulgated last August designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector nationwide 32% by 2030. This plan is an integral part of the Obama administration’s efforts to meet its obligations under the recent Paris Climate Agreement.

Greg Vitali

Greg Vitali

Under these EPA regulations, each state is required to develop its own plan to reach its assigned reduction target. Arizona is required to reduce its GHG emissions 33.5% by 2030. Prior to the stay, states were required to submit an implementation plan by September of this year. Compliance with this state plan by the electric power sector is not required until 2022.

The recent Paris climate agreement adopted by 196 countries reaffirmed we must limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This would require that a third of all proved reserves of oil, half of all natural gas and 80% of coal remain in the ground, according to one recent analysis. This means we need to dramatically increase our use of renewable energy and reduce our use of fossil fuels – particularly coal.

This is an enormous challenge and every day we delay makes this task harder. Because the U.S. Supreme Court will most likely finally decide this case in the next year and compliance with the plan isn’t required until 2022, it makes sense for Arizona to continue working in its state implementation plan.

Regrettably, the guest column fails to even acknowledge the climate change problem, let alone propose any solutions. The article also contains misinformation about renewable energy.

The author states “…wind and solar power have yet to prove reliable in terms of scalability for power generation.” This is not the case. In 2015, almost one-third of Germany’s electricity demand was met by renewable energy and 42% of Denmark’s energy demand was met by wind.

The author repeats the aphorism “the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow.” However, with over 48,000 utility scale wind turbines operating in the United States, the wind is usually blowing somewhere. And solar power correlates well with peak demand. On those sunny August afternoons when air conditioners are calling for lots of electricity solar power production is at its highest.

The author is correct in asserting that even if the U.S. fully complies with the Clean Power Plan, this will not result in a sufficient global temperature reduction. The Clean Power Plan is just one piece of the U.S. pledge (Intended Nationally Determined Reduction) to reduce carbon emissions nationwide by 26 to 28% by 2025. If all signees to the Paris agreement keep their pledge this would only keep earth warming to about 2.7 degrees Celsius – not the necessary 1.5 to 2 degrees.

But the correct response to this shortfall is not to ignore the problem as the author seems to suggest. The correct response is to resolve to do more.

State Representative Greg Vitali represents the 166th Legislative district of Pennsylvania. He is Democratic Chairman of the House Environmental Resource end Energy Committee.

One comment

  1. The people of Arizona know what’s best for the people of Arizona, Representative, but thanks for chiming in.

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