President Obama will unveil a sweeping plan today to cut the nation's carbon pollution while also preparing communities for the impacts of climate change.
In a speech to be delivered this afternoon at Georgetown University, Obama is expected to make the case that the United States has a moral obligation to act for future generations. But with Congress divided on the issue, the president's plan proposes a broad array of mostly executive actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, boost clean energy production and cope with droughts, flooding and other climate effects already being felt.
Among the most ambitious - and potentially controversial - items in Obama's plan is a move to curb carbon pollution from fossil-fired power plants, which account for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions nationally.
The Environmental Protection Agency already has proposed carbon-dioxide limits for new power plants, and Obama is directing the agency to "work expeditiously" to craft standards for existing power plants as well. But with the coal industry and its political supporters already upset about EPA's move to limit new plants, any move to require reductions from existing plants is likely to draw even more fire.
Other elements of Obama's plan include:
- expand renewable energy production on public lands, doubling the 10 gigawatts of solar and wind projects approved last year by the Department of Interior;
- increase federal energy-efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings enough to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons overall by 2030.
- boost fuel-economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles, in concert with the 54.5 mile-per-gallon goal already set for passenger vehicles by 2025;
The president also will direct federal agencies to factor the potential impacts of climate change into any funding requests for infrastructure such as highways and transit, water systems and brownfields redevelopment, as well as for rebuilding homes damaged by storms.
Obama's move to tackle climate change, which he pledged to make in his January inaugural speech and repeated over the weekend, is already drawing praise from many environmentalists. But the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis issued a statement in advance of the speech saying it would destroy the coal industry and hike energy costs.