Summer droughts, raging forest fires, extreme heat and cold-Idahoans see the climate changing before our eyes. And despite the wishes of naysayers, the science is crystal clear that carbon pollution from fossil fuels is changing the air we breathe and the climate around us. Fortunately, we have better alternatives than to continue to rely on the leading source of carbon pollution, coal-fired power plants. Clean energy-like geothermal and solar-is better and cheaper than ever. What we need is a plan to make a sensible, predictable transition to our clean energy future.
To cut carbon pollution, last summer the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the first-ever carbon limits from power plants. These modest limits, known as the Clean Power Plan, require each state to establish a sensible, flexible and achievable path to reduce carbon pollution by 2030. This long-term glide path gives Idaho plenty of time and options to find solutions that protect our air while keeping energy affordable.
Since then, Idaho’s agencies, utilities and other stakeholders have been looking at our options for an Idaho clean power plan. For example, every year Idahoans spend over $300 million importing out-of-state coal power. By investing this money right here in energy-saving programs, solar and geothermal power, we can have clean air, a stable climate and a growing economy.
Unfortunately, yesterday the Supreme Court tried to slow down this progress. Without considering the merits of the Clean Power Plan, the court granted the coal industry’s desire to halt development of the plan. While Kentucky may be excited, this decision could harm Idaho. The longer we import dirty, out-of-state coal, the more damage we do to our air and economy.
Despite the Court’s unexplained ruling, Idaho can and should continue considering our clean energy options. Idaho Power’s recent integrated resource plan concluded that closing the North Valmy coal plant in Nevada and reinvesting that money in Idaho will save customers money compared with business as usual.
The Idaho Conservation League knows that we can do better by ramping up energy-saving programs to eliminate the 30% of energy that is wasted each year through inefficient lights, motors and factories. Saving energy means saving our air and saving money-a win-win-win for Idaho.