Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy emphasized the importance of energy efficiency to achieving reductions in carbon emissions during her keynote address today at the U.S. Energy Association’s 2014 Energy Efficiency Forum.
McCarthy spoke to over two hundred people in the ballroom of the National Press Club about the President’s proposed rule to cut carbon emissions from existing electric power plants, one piece of the President’s action plan to address climate change.
Facing a divided Congress, the President took executive action in June 2013, and released a broad Climate Action Plan. As part of that plan, he directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions from new, modified and reconstructed, and existing electric power plants.
The EPA followed through with three proposed rules. In September 2013, the EPA proposed revised limits on carbon emissions from new power plants.
On June 2, 2014, the EPA proposed performance standards for modified and reconstructed power plants. These standards were consistent with the ones the EPA had proposed for new plants.
On June 2, 2014, the EPA also proposed state-based guidelines and limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants.
The proposed rule addressing existing power plants leaves flexibility for states to choose among a variety of ways to meet the rule’s federal, state-specific emission goals. “[Energy] efficiency is a big part of the answer,” McCarthy said, referring to what states can do to implement the EPA’s proposed rule.
Energy efficiency can reduce carbon emissions and lower electric generation costs. Businesses and people can achieve greater energy efficiency by monitoring their energy use, installing Energy-Star-rated lights and appliances, and following LEED guidelines for designing, constructing and operating buildings.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for private sector investment.”McCarthy told the attendees, many of whom were affiliated with organizations that develop, sell or purchase energy-efficiency products or services.
“[W]e have a moral obligation to our children and their children [to cut carbon emissions],” McCarthy said.