Pres. Obama’s Clean Power Plan is coming to Oregon, but the state’s small businesses might already be ahead of the curve.
The plan requires that states find ways to cut down on their carbon dioxide emissions. Whether that means imposing carbon pricing, switching to natural gas or expanding the use of renewable energy is up to the state. Oregon specifically has been instructed to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent.
The EPA hopes that with all these new plans put into effect the nation’s carbon emissions will be 32 percent lower by 2030.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown gave the Clean Power Plan her stamp of approval recently, saying, “A healthy environment is essential to ensuring the health of Oregonians and protects our quality of life for many generations to come.”
So it looks like Oregonians can expect to see this plan taking action soon.
But NFIB State Director Anthony Smith explains, “Oregon is already very close to meeting the goals of the President’s new Clean Power Plan.”
He says that the state’s only remaining coal-fired plant, which is run by Portland General Electric, has made plans to shut down in 2020, and the state has made much of the transition to renewable energy already.
The real impact of the Clean Power Plan will come to the pocketbooks of Oregonians. Even with minimal coal being burned in state, neighboring states that rely more heavily on coal power—like Washington and Idaho—will be forced to make substantial changes.
Pacific Power, for example, currently gets 60 percent of its power from coal, but will be closing down a number of its coal-fired power plants and spending a substantial amount of money to retrofit the ones that will remain open.
“As these out-of-state utilities struggle to comply with new regulations, those costs are surely going to be passed along to customers—our small businesses, their families, and their workers,” Smith says.
And this isn’t the end of the push for clean energy: officials expect the government will release additional environmental regulations for 2040, 2050 and beyond.
“It’s easy to say reducing carbon emissions is good for the environment, but you have to weigh the cost-benefit,” Smith says. “If we can’t clearly see the results, but we can clearly see what the costs are, that’s a problem for small business owners.”
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