Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Shows that Clean Power Plan Will Mitigate Rising Demand for Natural Gas, Urges States to Set Ambitious Goals for Renewables and Energy Efficiency
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Shows that Clean Power Plan Will Mitigate Rising Demand for Natural Gas, Urges States to Set Ambitious Goals for Renewables and Energy Efficiency

Washington, D.C. — With the public comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency’s, or EPA’s, Clean Power Plan scheduled to close today, the Center for American Progress released a report showing that the plan will mitigate rising natural gas use in the United States and offering recommendations for state policies to expedite the transition to a cleaner, more efficient economy.

The Clean Power Plan establishes a “best system of emissions reduction” based on four building blocks that would make the nation’s electricity system more efficient and less reliant on carbon-heavy coal-burning power plants. One of the Clean Power Plan’s central elements is increasing the use of lower-carbon natural gas power plants to generate some of the electricity now produced by higher-carbon coal-fired power plants. States can use this approach to achieve relatively quick carbon-pollution reductions starting in 2020 while ramping up the deployment of programs that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Referring to the EPA’s analysis of the potential energy-related impacts of the proposed Clean Power Plan, the CAP report notes that the Clean Power Plan will increase natural gas use in the short term as states switch from coal to gas and build new natural gas plants to replace retiring coal plants. But the EPA’s analysis also shows that the Clean Power Plan’s renewable energy and energy efficiency building blocks work to curb rising natural gas demand over time. By 2030, the electricity sector’s natural gas use will be lower than it would have been without the Clean Power Plan—although higher than it is today.

“The world’s foremost scientists are warning that the world’s leaders need to avoid ‘locking in’ more fossil-fuel infrastructure if we want to avert catastrophic warming of the climate,” said Alison Cassady, CAP’s Director of Domestic Energy Policy. “Although fuel switching to natural gas can achieve important carbon-pollution reductions in the short term, a successful long-term climate mitigation strategy needs to have renewable energy and energy efficiency as its foundation. The Clean Power Plan moves the United States in the right direction toward a truly clean energy future, but states can and should do more to set and meet ambitious renewable energy and energy-efficiency targets.”

States can help ensure that the United States does not over commit to natural gas and that it continues on a path toward decarbonization of the economy. CAP recommends that state policymakers:

  • Quickly and aggressively deploy renewable energy technologies to generate more power from zero-carbon sources
  • Implement a full-suite of demand-side energy-efficiency programs
  • Reduce methane leaks from the natural gas system to maximize the short-term climate benefits of using this lower carbon fuel
  • Develop innovative financing arrangements to spur lower-carbon investment

Click here to read the report. 

For more information, please contact Tom Caiazza at 202.481.7141 or [email protected].