The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 2.7% from 2016 to 2017 in America. The EPA’s report stated that emissions from large power plants have declined 4.5% since 2016 and 19.7% since 2011.
What were the reasons for the decline in greenhouse gas emissions, if the U.S. economy has been steadily growing? The reason is simple, economics. Utilities have been rapidly moving from coal-fueled power plants to natural gas and renewable energy sources, such as wind farms and solar parks due to economics. Hydropower, wind and solar energy are significantly cheaper to generate electricity than coal and comparable in price to natural gas.
Although the 2.7% decline in greenhouses gases is encouraging, the quantity is insignificant, relative to the quantity of CO2 necessary to improve air quality and mitigate the risk of global warming. In my opinion, the most effective methods to reduce greenhouse gases in the United States are as follows:
1. Continue the renewable energy tax credits, which will sustain the rapid growth of wind farms, solar parks, wind + solar hybrid projects, hydropower projects and geothermal projects. Renewable energy currently provides approximately 20% of America’s electricity. In my opinion, extending the tax credits will more than double the amount of renewable energy in America by 2030.
2. Accelerate the closure of coal-fueled power plants. Coal fueled power plants generate 30% to 40% more greenhouse gases than natural gas-fueled power plants.
3. Initiate tax credits for companies to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to the general public. In my opinion, gas stations will leap at the opportunity to add EV charging stations to their existing facilities. The new, fast charging stations can now provide an EV charge in less than 8 minutes that will allow the vehicle to drive an additional 125 miles. The greatest revenue generator for a gas station, isn’t gasoline, it is snacks and drinks.
4. Initiate tax credits for electric vehicle fleets and private vehicles. The automobile industry has been preparing for the move from combustion engine vehicles (CEV) to EVs for the past fifteen years. Tax incentives will make the purchase price for EVs comparable to CEVs. EVs operating and fueling cost are already cheaper than CEVs.
These measure will require collaboration at the federal, state and city levels. Cities and states should be routinely committing to EVs, not CEVs. States with state taxes can also provide tax breaks for priority renewable energy projects. States which rely on coal, may make tax credits for wind farms and solar parks a priority. Other states may encourage the purchase of EVs and the installation of public charging stations as a priority.
The fundamental question is, how America come together to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases. In my opinion, this can be done, if America can put aside our differences and work for the common good of our country.