New rules to limit carbon emissions from U.S. power plants represent President Barack Obama’s boldest effort to counter climate change—guidelines that supporters and critics alike cast as a turning point in U.S. environmental policy. (National Geographic News)
“Plan it Green” to understand the decisions scientists and policymakers must make to limit carbon emissions.
Smokestacks from pulp mills belch smoke above clouds near the coastal town of Eureka, California. This photo documents industrial pollution before the Clean Air Act of the 1970s. New EPA rules further limit emissions from coal-burning power plants. Photograph by James P. Blair, National Geographic
The nice Nat Geo News article outlines four key issues about the new emission rules for U.S. power plants. Our resources can supplement each “takeaway.”
CLICK TO ENLARGE! Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is one of the newest and most controversial methods of extracting natural gas. This illustration depicts the process, which involves very deep drilling sites. “USDW” denotes an underground source of drinking water. Illustration courtesy Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory
1. The United States is well on the way to meeting the goal of cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent . . . thanks in part to the fracking boom that has boosted a nationwide shift to cleaner-burning natural gas, and to the 2008 recession, which depressed energy demand.
Coal is the leading source of energy in the United States. Photograph by James P. Blair, National Geographic
2. It’s not a great day for coal, but it’s not an immediate death knell.
Texas is by far the largest emitter of carbon emissions in the U.S., although Wyoming and North Dakota are the heaviest emitters per capita. Map by National Geographic, Sources: EPA; EIA; U.S.Census Bureau
3. A few states will have tough choices ahead.
China—the world’s most populous nation, with the fastest-growing economy—emits more carbon than any other nation. Graphic by National Geographic
4. On their own, the new EPA rules won’t be enough to reduce climate change.