By Andrew H. Perellis and Craig B. Simonsen

shutterstock_71039011President Obama this week has announced various steps and actions in order to build on his “Climate Action Plan” intended to reduce the “dangerous levels” of carbon pollution that are allegedly contributing to climate change. His intention is to prepare communities for the impacts “that cannot be avoided,” and to lead internationally on climate change.

Citing the Health Impacts of Climate Change on Americans report from June 2014, the White House announced that “in the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital.” In addition, this week a draft report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, was released. The draft was developed by the Interagency Group on Climate Change and Human Health as part of the National Climate Assessment under the President’s Climate Action Plan.

Based in-part on these reports and assessments, the President has worked to bring about significant new rules that will impact a wide range of commercial and industrial interests — not to mention the resulting additional costs that will seemingly flow on to consumers. Specific regulatory areas that are targeted under this scheme, as iterated in the White House Fact Sheet, include:

  • Clean Power Plan:The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency intends to finalize its rules to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants by this summer.  The proposed standards, issued in June 2014, would reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, while promising to deliver $55-93 billion in annual net benefits from reducing carbon pollution and other harmful pollutants, and “preventing 150,000 asthma attacks and up to 6,600 premature deaths and 180,000 missed school days.”
  • Standards for Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles:In February 2014, President Obama directed EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue the next phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016.
  • Energy Efficiency Standards:The Department of Energy has set a goal of reducing carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 through energy conservation standards issued during the Obama Administration. The DOE has already finalized energy conservation standards for twenty-nine categories of appliances and equipment, and has developed a “building code determination for commercial buildings.” The Administration estimates that these measures will cut consumers’ annual electricity bills by billions of dollars.
  • Economy-Wide Measures to Reduce other Greenhouse Gases:“EPA and other agencies are taking actions to cut methane emissions from oil and gas systems, landfills, coal mining, and agriculture, through cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards.  At the same time, the State Department is working to slash global emissions of potent industrial greenhouse gases, called HFCs, through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol; EPA is cutting domestic HFC emissions through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program; and, the private sector has stepped up with commitments to cut global HFC emissions equivalent to 700 million metric tons through 2025.”

The Fact Sheet, as noted above, promises great saving for consumers. This though, seems disingenuous, once these regulatory programs are put into place.

Public comments on the draft assessment report are due by June 8, 2015.