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The Disparate Effect of Clean Power Plan Goals

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The Disparate Effect of Clean Power Plan Goals

August 7, 2015

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is either a bold step towards preserving the environment or an economy-crushing sledgehammer of a regulation, depending on whom you ask. But a look at the goals for emissions reductions broken up by state shows that not all Americans will bear the hammer-stroke equally.

The map below shows how much each state must reduce carbon emissions from 2012 levels to meet the EPA’s individual goals for them in the year 2030. Midwestern states like North Dakota will have to reduce emissions by up to 37 percent, while a handful of states, mostly on the coasts, will be allowed to increase emissions.


 

For instance, the EPA’s 2030 emissions goal for Washington state is 57 percent above the state’s 2012 level. In neighboring Idaho, the goal is more than double the 2012 emissions level. Nationwide, however, the picture is different. In the 47 states for which the EPA reported goals (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont), the 2030 goals are collectively 21 percent lower than the 2012 reported levels.

This leads to some strange inconsistencies. Indiana is about half the size of Illinois by population, yet must contribute a greater proportion of the nationwide total emissions reduction than its western neighbor (6.6 percent versus 6.3 percent). Florida is about five times the size of Oklahoma, yet both must contribute the same proportion of reduction (2.6 percent) towards the national goal.

Given that some states such as California have already made progress towards reducing emissions, it’s reasonable that the EPA would not require equal relative reductions from each state. But variations as wide as these go beyond what logic should dictate. For the residents of North Dakota and several other states, President Obama has some explaining to do.

 

Preston Cooper is a Policy Analyst at Economics21. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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