Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
President Barack Obama speaks about climate change on Tuesday at Georgetown University in Washington.
Highlights of Obama's plan
— Issue a presidential memorandum to launch the first-ever federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.
— Revise and reissue proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.
— Provide up to $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur investment in efficiency projects and advanced fossil energy, including technology to limit carbon emissions.
— Expand permitting for renewable energy projects like wind and solar on public lands, with a goal of powering more than 6 million homes by 2020.
— Set a goal of installing 100 megawatts of renewable energy projects on federally assisted housing projects by 2020.
— Take more aggressive steps to increase efficiency for appliances and federal buildings, with a goal of reducing carbon dioxide pollution by 3 billion metric tons overall by 2030.
— Develop a new set of fuel-economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
PREPARE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
— Create a National Drought Resilience Partnership to help communities, farmers and landowners prepare for droughts and wildfires.
— Promote climate change preparedness by creating a toolkit for local governments and businesses, and by partnering with hospitals.
— Update flood risk reduction standards that all federally funded projects must meet.
— Work with China, India and other major polluting countries to reduce emissions.
— End U.S. public financing for new coal-fired power plants in other countries. Plants in the poorest countries using the most efficient technology available would be exempt.
Obama also announced $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur investment in technologies that can keep carbon dioxide produced by power plants from being released into the atmosphere.
But the linchpin of Obama's plan is the controls on new and existing power plants. Forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and one-third of greenhouse gases overall, come from electric power plants, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. The Obama administration already has proposed controls on new plants, but those controls have been delayed and not yet finalized.
Tuesday's announcement came just weeks after Obama's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, assured senators during her confirmation process that the EPA was "not currently" developing any regulations on existing sources of greenhouse gases. McCarthy said if EPA were to look at such regulations, it would allow states, the public and others to "offer meaningful input on potential approaches."
Republicans quickly dismissed Obama's plan, calling it a "war on coal" and a "war on jobs," reflecting the opposition to climate legislation on Capitol Hill that prompted a frustrated Obama to sidestep lawmakers and take action himself.
"It's tantamount to kicking the ladder out from beneath the feet of many Americans struggling in today's economy," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the floor of the Senate.
Environmental groups offered a mix of praise and wariness that Obama would follow through on the ambitious goals he laid out. Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity described it as too little, too late.
"What he's proposing isn't big enough, doesn't move fast enough, to match the terrifying magnitude of the climate crisis," Snape said.
Others hailed the plan, galvanized by the fact that Obama was taking action on his own after Congress' reluctance to tackle the issue using legislation.
"The president nailed it: this can't wait," said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We will cut this carbon pollution today so our children don't inherit climate chaos tomorrow."