Following President Obama’s call to the Environmental Protection Agency to work closely with states, industry and the public to reduce carbon pollution and to come up with new standards for coming and existing power plants, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe took up the challenge with a visit to Fort Lauderdale Thursday.
Perciasepe addressed a group of business leaders, elected officials and the public at the Fifth Annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.
“The work in Southeast Florida has really caught the attention of the country and it is a powerful partnership evolving here to deal with the issues we all face,” Perciasepe said in the first of two presentations at the two-day summit which concludes Friday.
“It would be irresponsible if this region hadn’t risen up to see how it could be more resilient and more prepared,” he said.
The Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by three billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 through efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings. Perciasepe stressed “resilience” frequently.
“We want to work with the electric generation industry and see how resilience can be built into there, how to make electric distribution systems more resilient,” he said.
Power plants, he said, are the largest individual sources of carbon emissions domestically, accounting for 40 percent of our carbon pollution. “That’s more than the entire transportation system — cars, planes, trains, buses and boats all together.”
Among the areas the EPA is looking at: more wisely managing storm waters.
“What we do with that rainwater, traditionally, is we get it off quickly as possible into storm drains. The idea of filtrating it back into the groundwater and how we manage stormwater and the drainage system in this country is an important building block in resilience,” Perciasepe said.
“There is a link between quality of life and dealing with these issues. You have to look at a modern, sustainable, forward-looking energy future,” he said.
The EPA plans to put together a proposal in the spring defining ways in which the country can follow the president’s Climate Action Plan.
“In a cost-benefit analysis, for every dollar invested in clean air there’s a return of $4 to $8 dollars in benefits,” Perciasepe said. “One of the greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century is working to solve climate change. Future generations of Floridians must build this consensus in moving forward.”
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