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Happy birthday, Clean Power Plan! Why we need you now more than ever.

On August 2, the Clean Power Plan hit a milestone; one year ago the final carbon pollution limits were released by the USEPA, and it was clear that Ohio must get itself on track to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 27% by 2030. The ultimate fate of this critical policy is still a bit uncertain. But the global temperature trends and the climate change impacts felt both close and far from Ohio make me think that perhaps 2016 is shaping up to be the poster child for why we need the Clean Power Plan now more than ever.

Just a few short weeks ago, on July 21, 2016, the city of Mitribah, Kuwait set an all-time high temperature record for all of Asia at a scorching 129.2 degrees, and it was the second-highest recorded temperature ever recorded in the Eastern hemisphere. Stemming from a heat have hitting the Middle East at the time, the record set in Mitribah set off debate that it could perhaps be the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth.

The alarm over this temperature could be short-lived, chalked up to abnormal or an outright anomaly. However, when considered as a single day in 2016, it’s a high point for the year that is on track to being declared the hottest on record ever, and a year that is demonstrating that climate trends in arctic ice coverage and global temperatures are breaking records. Here at home, much of northeast Ohio has been experiencing a moderate drought, a trend predicted to be how climate change manifests itself here in Ohio.

At the same time, an interesting trend is continuing with electric utilities in Ohio. For one, FirstEnergy has announced it’s closing multiple coal units in two Ohio plants – the Sammis and Bayshore power plants. Ohio’s second largest utility, AEP-Ohio, issued a Request for Information back in May for solar developers interested in working with the utility to develop solar projects of 5 megawatts or larger. While a follow-through on the agreement they made in exchange for their coal plant bailouts, it shows that the utility is taking this commitment seriously.

Critics of the Clean Power Plan would look at these positive trends towards renewable energy and ask why we even need regulations on carbon pollution? If the market is going this way anyway, why should the USEPA be requiring states to cut carbon? The answer is simple: we must go faster and further to address global climate change if we’re to stymie the impacts of climate change. Utilities will make business decision sometimes that also benefit the environment, and they should be commended for these choices. But it will take all the tools we have to address the problem of climate change. Not just this recent good news on coal plant closures, forthcoming regulations on carbon pollution, and utility-scale solar projects. We also need rooftop solar and other distributed generation resources such as small wind projects, whole-building energy efficiency retrofits, more aggressive new building standards, offshore wind development, and empowered customers who can make more sustainable energy choices. The challenge is large, but we’ve already gotten started. Let’s keep it moving.