NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that new rules to curb carbon emissions could help grow communities' economies by investing in technologies that work for them.
The Obama administration unveiled a plan this week to force a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2030 from 2005 levels. It has drawn some criticism, including from states that depend on coal to fuel their economies.
The EPA is giving customized targets to each state, then leaving it up to those states to develop plans to meet their targets. Some states will be allowed to emit more and others less, leading to an overall, nationwide reduction of 30 percent.
Power plants are America's largest source of greenhouse gases, accounting for 38 percent of annual emissions. Plants have already reduced carbon emissions nearly 13 percent since 2005, meaning they are about halfway to meeting the administration's goal.
"What this does is send a long-term signal that renewals are important and efficiencies are important," said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. "And those investments not only must be made, but those investments are great for the local economies, they're great for job growth, they are great for continuing to allow growth in our economy in a way that will allow us to be sustainable moving forward."
McCarthy made the comments during a conference on coastal resiliency at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Norfolk is one of the nation's communities that is most vulnerable to sea level rise, and McCarthy said carbon emissions need to be cut to keep climate change from escalating.
"We can grow businesses, we can grow jobs, we can grow our economy and that's really what this conference is about," McCarthy said. "Frankly, that's what the EPA's proposal to reduce carbon pollution across every state is all about. It's about allowing every state to find a path that works for them that will move us toward a 21st century energy supply and demand system and that will also grow their economies moving forward."
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