With new carbon rules, it’s time to focus on renewable energy

The EPA’s latest release of a carbon rule to limit greenhouse gases from power plants is a great step toward mitigating the risks of climate change and improving the health, security and surrounding environment of U.S. citizens. The EPA estimates $55-93 billion saved in health costs with the reduction in carbon emissions, as well as a decrease in premature deaths and asthma attacks nationwide.

The main concern following the EPA’s new carbon rules involves the search for replacement sources of energy. While Rolf Westgard supports the development of risky nuclear power (“U.S. should reconsider nuclear power” 6/2), investment in cleaner, more reliable sources of energy (such as solar and wind) as well as an overall increase in energy efficiency would be a more stable approach. Since reducing carbon polluting increases health benefits and lowers cost, energy sources that continue to ensure the safety and health of citizens is the next logical step.

By supporting the EPA’s new carbon rules to promote energy efficiency and focusing on renewables rather than nuclear power, the U.S. can provide a healthy and sustainable future for its citizens.

Kelly Halpin is a Clean Energy Outreach Intern at the Sierra Club.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by rolf westgard on 06/03/2014 - 08:37 pm.


    With its overall 90%+ capacity factor, nuclear is the most reliable power source in the world. Wind(30%) and solar(15%) are the least reliable. Imagine a quiet night when we depend on wind and solar: traffic lights stop, hospitals and factories go dark, people living in high rise buildings walk 30 flights of stairs to their units, etc.

  2. Submitted by Tom Karas on 06/04/2014 - 06:27 am.

    old saw strikes again

    Mr. Westgard knows better than to try and confuse the public by using ‘capacity’ factor as a metric for success. Thats what the old guard has left though when trying to push old school answers.
    If he were real honest, Mr. Westgard would tell the public that the energy coming from a new nuke plant is projected to be well in excess of .25 pkwh. Or that the cost of energy from a new coal plant will be in the .15 to .20 pkwh range without counting the goofy 30% parasitic load for a carbon capture project. If you were actually told your bill would triple for some good old nuke, how fast would you be asking for wind and solar, eh?
    I do think we need a little nuke for balance, but I also think we need to be honest about what it is going to cost even before considering the waste question.
    But we need a lot more wind and solar. A lot more. I just happens to be very cheap. Will remain cheap as the fuel cost is, oh yea, Zero.
    Rolf is correct, stating the obvious is easy, the wind does not blow all the time everywhere. But it is blowing somewhere all the time and hooking all that wind up together can get you close. And of course Mr. Sun comes to work every day, right on time, and really great battery technology is right around the corner.
    Its a new energy world, get used to it.

    • Submitted by rolf westgard on 06/17/2014 - 09:44 am.

      Trivial wind and solar

      At about 1% of our total energy, wind and solar have not exactly created a new energy world. Unless we want to live in caves and use our feet and bicycles to get around.
      Nuclear energy is there when you need it, at lower cost than wind and solar.

  3. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 06/04/2014 - 09:48 am.

    So were are the blackouts?

    Minnesota is already getting roughly 15% of its electricity from wind right now. If the power source was as unreliable as Rolf claims, don’t you think we would have noticed?

    The truth is nukes represent an important but static piece of our energy portfolio. Wind and solar are both growing, as is natural gas, which burns cleaner than coal.

    Coal use is shrinking. No new nukes are planned in this state. Renewables are only going to grow larger in the years to come.

  4. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/04/2014 - 04:40 pm.

    Wind & Solar

    Mr. Westgard makes it sound like there isn’t a solution to our power needs if it’s dark out or the wind isn’t blowing. It’s simple: just buy a battery.

    Of course I’m just oversimplifying the logistics involved in the equation, but that’s to drive home the point. If you’re looking for solutions to engineering problems then you’ll find them. If, on the other hand, you simply throw up your hands at each little issue that’s thrown your way then every little bump in the road is going to look like an insurmountable mountain.

    Sure, there are times when it’s dark out or the wind doesn’t blow. So what? A few solutions that come to mind are to store the energy at peak times, which does not need to be a battery. A wind turbine can run a pump (think of old school windmills on farms) and move water into a reservoir. When you need more electricity, release the water and run it through a turbine.

    For solar, you can collect the sun with mirrors and use it to melt salt as the Spaniards have done. Even after the sun goes down that salt still stays liquid for a long time and the heat is used to run a steam turbine.

    No one expects we’ll dispense with coal or nuclear power plants tomorrow, so it’s not like we need to ditch our entire infrastructure overnight and replace it with wind and solar tomorrow. We have the luxury of phasing these operations in over time so we can work out the issues as well as assure no one’s house goes dark.

    Look for solutions and you’ll find them. Otherwise you’re the grumpy old guy on the porch yelling at the kids to “get off my lawn!” No one respects that.

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