Early business reactions to the EPA's crackdown on coal

Nearly a year after President Obama released his Climate Action Plan, the EPA is set to ask power plants to slash their CO2 emissions by 30 percent.

The draft rule on Monday sets a target for the year 2030 measured against 2005 levels, according to The Wall Street Journal. The rule is expected to be completed a year from now, and states would need to submit their plans by 2016.

A longtime foe of climate regulations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warned last week (PDF), before the rules were even made public, that the EPA's move could cost the economy $51 billion and 224,000 jobs each year. The Natural Resources Defense Council fired back with its own study predicting that 274,000 jobs would be created.

Many more positive reactions, of course, are flooding in from the corporate and nonprofit sustainability communities. Here are some initial responses:

Trisa Thompson, Dell VPTrisa Thompson, VP of corporate responsibility, Dell:

We believe the technology sector can help lead the charge in this effort to inspire environmental change with efficient products and solutions...We applaud actions that encourage improvements to our planet and underscore collaboration. We will continue to work closely with customers, suppliers and policy makers to reach our goals and measure progress, and we hope more organizations will do the same.

Letitia Webster, director of global sustainability at VF Corporation:Letitia Webster, VF Corporation

As a company that makes innovative apparel and footwear for people who love the outdoors, we know how important addressing climate change is to our consumers, and therefore, our business. Today’s rules provide the long-term certainty that VF needs to continue to invest in clean energy solutions so that we can do our part to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Ken Locklin, managing director of Impax Asset Management:Ken Locklin, Impax

These proposed EPA carbon pollution regulations will accelerate innovation and development across the U.S. energy sector. Other countries have surged into the forefront in clean energy practices. These standards can catalyze new low carbon investment here at home.

Mindy Lubber, president, Ceres:

While we have not yet studied the details of EPA’s proposed standard, Ceres supports its overall approach for cutting carbon pollution and spurring clean energy investment. Data show that the electric power industry is already on the path toward a low carbon energy future, and this standard will accelerate this shift at the pace required by science.Mindy Lubber, Ceres

Nonprofit Ceres issued a letter to the Obama administration. It represented the voices of 173 companies that belong to Ceres' BICEP coalition, which stands for Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy.

"We are especially pleased to see an approach that catalyzes energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment," said the letter, signed by brands including the Adidas Group, Dignity Health, Levi Strauss, Mars, Method, Novelis, Saunders Hotel Group, SolarCity, Sungevity, SunPower, Symantec, Thule and Unilever. It continued:

Clean energy policies are good for our environment, the economy, and companies. Increasingly, businesses rely on renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions to improve corporate performance and cut costs. …

Today’s rules will help spur investment and provide the long-term certainty necessary for our businesses to thrive and to meet these goals. ...The new standards will reinforce what leading companies already know: climate change poses real financial risks and substantial economic opportunities and we must act now. We applaud your administration for its commitment to tackling climate change and we encourage your timely pursuit of the finalization and implementation of these standards.

Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources InstituteAndrew Steer, WRI

These standards will catalyze investment in America’s thriving clean energy industry. In Georgia, Minnesota and New Mexico, renewable energy has emerged as the cheaper option for new electricity generation. The same holds true in Texas, which now has more wind power capacity than all but five countries. Earlier this year solar energy provided a record 18 percent of California’s energy demand. And studies show consumers save $2 to $5 for every single dollar invested in energy efficiency. Smart climate policy simply makes dollars and sense.

Despite the usual grumbling from some critics, it’s abundantly clear that these rules can be implemented cost-effectively. Time and again opposition groups have made dire economic predictions about new regulations, when in fact they repeatedly drive innovation and open new economic opportunities.

Top image of coal burning power plant by zhangyang13576997233 via Shutterstock