USA: Obama announces major climate change plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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Article
4 August 2015

Environmental Protection Agency announcement

Author: US Environmental Protection Agency

"Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants"

…On August 3, 2015, President Obama and EPA announced the Clean Power Plan – a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants that takes real action on climate change. Shaped by years of unprecedented outreach and public engagement, the final Clean Power Plan is fair, flexible and designed to strengthen the fast-growing trend toward cleaner and lower-polluting American energy. With strong but achievable standards for power plants, and customized goals for states to cut the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, the Clean Power Plan provides national consistency, accountability and a level playing field while reflecting each state’s energy mix. It also shows the world that the United States is committed to leading global efforts to address climate change…

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Article
4 August 2015

Obama’s Climate Change Plan Is Actually About Public Health

Author: Sarah Zhang, Wired (USA)

…“What a proud day it is for public health and protection of the environment,” [said] Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation…Public health is the calcium that strengthens the Clean Power Plan’s teeth. And this isn’t the first time the Feds connected public health to climate. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide as pollutants under the Clean Air Act…If cutting carbon emissions means cutting coal…then other nasty stuff goes away, too. Soot, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide belching out of smokestacks contribute to heart and lung disease. The EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan will help avoid between 2,700 and 6,600 premature deaths per year by 2030…Making the case that reducing US reliance on coal is a win for clean air is easier in the short term. While climate change may cause sea levels to rise, exacerbate drought and floods, and make North America more hospitable to new diseases, those outcomes are hard to imagine. Higher asthma and allergy rates and more smog, though? Those are visible results.

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Article
4 August 2015

Plan aims to cut power stations' greenhouse gas emissions by 1/3 within 15 years

Author: BBC

US President Barack Obama has unveiled what he called "the biggest, most important step we have ever taken" in tackling climate change. The aim of the revised Clean Power Plan is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from US power stations by nearly a third within 15 years. The measures will place significant emphasis on wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources. However, opponents in the energy industry have vowed to fight the plan…The revised plan will aim to cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 32% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels…It sets carbon pollution reduction goals for power plants and requires states to implement plans to meet goals. States have until September 2016 to submit plans, but must comply by 2022…Mr Obama said the new limits were backed up by decades of data showing that without action the world faced more extreme weather and escalating health problems…Power stations are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the US and account for about one third of all such US emissions…

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Article
3 August 2015

A Climate Plan Businesses Can Like

Author: Jody Freeman & Kate Konschnik, New York Times (USA)

With the release of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a flood of legal challenges will begin. Already, opponents have denounced the new rule limiting carbon pollution as unconstitutional. Behind the rattling sabers, however…[m]any big players in the electric power industry will gain more with the rule in place than if the courts strike it down…The plan sends a clear market signal that low-carbon energy will be profitable. Many of the country’s most powerful investor-owned utilities, including MidAmerican, Southern Company and Exelon, have made big investments in low carbon sources like wind, solar or nuclear power…In the last several years, utilities also have begun shifting away from coal toward cheaper natural gas. What they want now is a clear and predictable federal plan that will help them profit from these investments, and reward them for making more. The president’s plan does just that…[J]ust as it will be important to have supportive states on the government side to counter states that challenge the plan, it will also be crucial to have some industry players there. For conservative judges who may be skeptical of regulation, industry voices can make a big difference… [also refers to Calpine, PG&E]

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Article
3 August 2015

Obama cites health & safety impacts of climate change in "Clean Power Plan" announcement

Author: Allie Malloy & Sunlen Serfaty, CNN

The Obama administration unveiled a major climate change plan on Sunday aimed at a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's coal-burning power plants...The "Clean Power Plan" is the final version of regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency, which President Barack Obama called "the biggest most important step we've ever taken to combat climate change"...Under the plan, the administration will require states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards, based on their individual energy consumption. The plan also includes an incentive program for states to get a head start on meeting standards on early deployment of renewable energy and low-income energy efficiency...A multi-million dollar campaign backed by the energy industry has sought to debunk the science of climate change, but polls show most Americans believe the planet is warming...Obama is likely to make the case that climate change is a moral, economic and national security obligation in the months ahead...