Appalachian region will benefit from Obama, EPA plan to cut carbon pollution

Cat McCue, Communications Director, 434-293-6373,

Charlottesville, Va. – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy today announced the nation’s first-ever proposed rule to limit planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants — the single largest factor in America’s carbon footprint. The genesis of the rule is a U.S. Supreme Court decision, and a subsequent finding by the EPA in 2009 that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide endanger public health and welfare.

Key to cutting carbon pollution is reducing the demand for electricity from dirty, coal-fired power plants by increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable, cleaner energy sources like wind and solar. This approach will have tremendous benefits for American families, and for Appalachia residents in particular, in terms of cleaner air, a stronger economy, and a safer future.

Following is a statement from Appalachian Voices Executive Director Tom Cormons:

“This is a critical opportunity to move the needle toward cleaner, more sustainable ways to power our lives that can be a major economic boost to our region. Appalachian Voices supports a strong regulatory framework to cut carbon pollution and level the playing field for energy efficiency and renewables like solar and wind.

“Energy efficiency is the quickest, cheapest and most equitable way to meet our energy needs while reducing carbon pollution, and it’s a tremendous unexploited opportunity in the Southeast. Strong efficiency programs will also boost economic prosperity, creating thousands of jobs and business and investor opportunities. This is especially important in many parts of Appalachia, where good jobs are scarce and lower household incomes preclude too many from the savings and comfort of an energy-efficient home.

“Appalachia has traditionally borne the brunt of the damage from the nation’s coal-dependent economy and is suffering the health impacts and environmental and economic devastation of mountaintop removal coal mining and related industrial practices. Our region in particular stands to benefit tremendously from a shift to cleaner energy sources.”


The Southeast has the largest untapped energy efficiency resource of any region in the country, with 29% of the nation’s total potential, according to a 2009 analysis from McKinsey Global Energy and Markets. By the same token, families in the Southeast pay a higher percentage of their income for electricity compared to the national average, according to a February report from Appalachian Voices.

One primary reason is that in the largely rural area of Appalachia, homes are less energy efficient than average, while poverty rates are generally above average, meaning families can’t afford to make home improvements that would save them money and energy.

According to a 2009 report by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, implementation of energy efficiency policies in Appalachia could create 77,300 jobs by 2030.

Appalachian Voices is an award-winning, environmental non-profit committed to protecting the natural resources of central and southern Appalachia, focusing on reducing coal’s impact on the region and advancing our vision for a cleaner energy future. Founded in 1997, we are headquartered in Boone, N.C. with offices in Charlottesville, Va.; Knoxville, Tn. and Washington, D.C.