Speak Out Editorial- 8/6 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Speak Out Editorial- 8/6

Caution on Climate Change

No one wants polluted air and water, but the president's climate change proposal requires careful consideration before we take any action. 

The Clean Power Plan targets electric companies and coal burning power plants that are responsible for 31 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The enforcement of the legislation falls to the states which will each have an emissions reduction goal and some flexibility in how they get there. That's encouraging news because it allows some creativity in how the goals are reached, including more solar and wind, which have zero emissions.

The president's plan accelerates the pace of change which the energy companies already had underway. For the downside to the plan consider Palatka Florida where the coal burning power plant is immediately threatened by the legislation.

If shuttered, that area near Tampa will lose up to 800 jobs, and this after investing over $500 million in environmental upgrades. There are 1,308 coal fired plants in the U.S., so the impact on jobs is huge. 

The power companies have done a great job already at reducing our dependence on coal. In 1988, 57 percent of electricity was powered by coal. Currently that number is 34 percent, and we have nearly 77 million more people in the country. 

Duke Energy has retired 40 of its older coal units across the Carolinas and Midwest and replaced them with cleaner burning natural gas.

Consider this:  if the U.S. makes these changes and China doesn't, we will be at a competitive disadvantage against our own coal bought on the open market.  And U.S. emissions reductions could well be offset by increases in Asia. 

This really is a global problem - the U.S. can't go it alone. The editorial board feels that our course is correct; less emissions are critical to the planet.

But we would advise careful progress to make sure we don't become a second class economy while on the way to being a first class environmentalist.

What do you think?

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