Clean Power Plan




On August 3, 2015 President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to reduce power plant carbon emissions 32% by 2030 (from 2005 levels). The administration billed it as “an historic step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change.” It is the first time the United States—historically the world’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change—has committed to reducing carbon pollution from power plants, the source of more than 31% of our greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The new policy is a fundamental part of the U.S. strategy to address climate change. At the same time, it will also have important health, economic, and environ¬mental implications for frontline communities disproportionately affected by pollution and climate disruption. These are the Indige- nous, African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and poor white communities leading the Climate Justice Alliance.

And the Climate Justice Alliance has something to say to the state and regional leaders now preparing to implement the Clean Power Plan.



The CPP represents an important first step by the United States government in confronting climate change – but it does not go far enough. To begin with, the Clean Power Plan addresses only one part of the equation to address climate change – fossil fueled power plants. But even in that limited context, there’s room for great improvement.

This is why the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) has issued a frontline Environmental Justice (EJ) community response to the CPP, called the Our Power Plan.

• It identifies what in the Clean Power Plan is helpful and harmful for families and communities.

• It presents clear and specific strategies for implementing the Clean Power Plan in a way that will truly benefit our families’ health and our country’s economy.

Our point of leverage as citizens now is the Federal and State Implementation Plans. States have until September 2016 to pull their plans together (2018 if extensions are approved). In this process,

  • states are encouraged to conduct equity analyses;
  • states must report to the EPA how they have conducted community engagement;
  • a voluntary Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) provides EPA matching funds for energy efficiency investments in low-income communities.Starting with a ten-city Day of Action on January 19th, members of the Climate Justice Alliance are going to step forward and speak out for what really works.



What can the EPA and the states do to fulfill the true game-changing potential of the Clean Power Plan?

Inclusion. Ensure significant representation and decision-making power for communities overburdened by climate impacts and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan including communities of color and low-income communities.

Measure what matters. Work with frontline communities to develop definitions, indicators, and tracking & response systems that really account for impacts like health, energy use, cost of energy, climate vulnerability, cumulative risk, etc.

Do not incentivize dirty, extractive energy. Biomass and waste incineration should not qualify as non-emitting sources of energy. And in a 20-year life-cycle time horizon, natural gas is even dirtier and more dangerous than coal.

Strengthen worker protections. Require states to meet the highest standards for good jobs created through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Do more to support worker transition for those affected by the shift away from coal.

Strengthen the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) to make sure low-income communities really benefit from energy efficiency and renewable energy. Read the full Our Power Plan for specifics on trading schemes; early investments; including community infrastructure like nonprofits and small businesses; and accounting correctly for race and income. And all states should be required to participate in the CEIP.

Strengthen renewable energy provisions in a variety of ways:

  • increase set-asides from 5% to 20%+;
  • make sure renewable energy projects aren’t just located in low-income neighborhoods, but directly serve energy to and are owned or leased by people in these communities;
  • remove the administrative and financial barriers that stand in the way of community-owned, small-scale distributed wind and solar renewable energy generation;
  • protect the healthy market for renewable energy that is voluntarily purchased by businesses and households nationwide;
  • and when allowances go unclaimed, it’s better to use the cash for clean energy jobs rather than handing the allowances over to fossil fuel plants.


Invest more in real, clean renewables, jobs, and health… not carbon trading.

Carbon trading is a regulatory compliance tactic, but it doesn’t deal with the root causes of pollution and climate disruption. Vulnerable communities bear the brunt of harm—from dirty energy extraction to waste—and shuffling around “permissions to pollute” doesn’t change that. The EPA knows that EJ communities are also the most vulnerable to potential abuses and systemic fail¬ures of the carbon markets.

  • When a company buys credits or allowances because its plant is in jeopardy of violating pollution limits, those polluting plants tend to sit in our neighborhoods.
  • They are also a way of transferring wealth from rate-payers in heavily polluted places to investors who create new clean energy jobs and better health conditions elsewhereWe will do better as a nation by de-emphasizing carbon markets and investing more heavily in an energy infrastructure based on real clean, renewable, non-extractive sources like wind and solar.



Visit www.ourpowercampaign/ourpowerplan to read the full Our Power Plan, see who endorsed it, and learn more about the Climate Justice Alliance members nationwide who will be pushing for the best possible State Implementation Plans… for all generations.

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