Tuesday, June 25, 2013

President Obama Releases Climate Action Plan

Jun 25: President Obama delivered a speech at Georgetown University today outlining his Climate Action Plan. He also released the Plan and issued a Presidential Memorandum on Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards (see links below).
The President's Plan begins by stating, "While no single step can reverse the effects of climate change, we have a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted and damaged. Through steady, responsible action to cut carbon pollution, we can protect our children's health and begin to slow the effects of climate change so that we leave behind a cleaner, more stable environment. Outlining the progress that has been made to date, the President's Climate Action Plan says:
While this progress is encouraging, climate change is no longer a distant threat – we are already feeling its impacts across the country and the world. Last year was the warmest year ever in the contiguous United States and about one-third of all Americans experienced 10 days or more of 100-degree heat. The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15 years. Asthma rates have doubled in the past 30 years and our children will suffer more asthma attacks as air pollution gets worse. And increasing floods, heat waves, and droughts have put farmers out of business, which is already raising food prices dramatically.
These changes come with far-reaching consequences and real economic costs. Last year alone, there were 11 different weather and climate disaster events with estimated losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. Taken together, these 11 events resulted in over $110 billion in estimated damages, which would make it the second-costliest year on record.
In short, America stands at a critical juncture. Today, President Obama is putting forward a broad-based plan to cut the carbon pollution that causes climate change and affects public health. Cutting carbon pollution will help spark business innovation to modernize our power plants, resulting in cleaner forms of American-made energy that will create good jobs and cut our dependence on foreign oil. Combined with the Administration's other actions to increase the efficiency of our cars and household appliances, the President's plan will reduce the amount of energy consumed by American families, cutting down on their gas and utility bills. The plan, which consists of a wide variety of executive actions, has three key pillars:
1) Cut Carbon Pollution in America: In 2012, U.S. carbon emissions fell to the lowest level in two decades even as the economy continued to grow. To build on this progress, the Obama Administration is putting in place tough new rules to cut carbon pollution – just like we have for other toxins like mercury and arsenic -- so we protect the health of our children and move our economy toward American-made clean energy sources that will create good jobs and lower home energy bills.

2) Prepare the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change: Even as we take new steps to reduce carbon pollution, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country. Moving forward, the Obama Administration will help state and local governments strengthen our roads, bridges, and shorelines so we can better protect people's homes, businesses and way of life from severe weather.

3) Lead International Efforts to Combat Global Climate Change and Prepare for its Impacts: Just as no country is immune from the impacts of climate change, no country can
meet this challenge alone. That is why it is imperative for the United States to couple action at home with leadership internationally. America must help forge a truly global solution to this global challenge by galvanizing international action to significantly reduce emissions (particularly among the major emitting countries), prepare for climate impacts, and drive progress through the international negotiations.
    At the top of the President's agenda is "Cutting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants." The President is issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing the U.S. EPA to work expeditiously to complete carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants. In developing the standards, the President has asked EPA to "build on state
leadership, provide flexibility, and take advantage of a wide range of energy sources and technologies including many actions in this plan."
    The Administration is announcing a number of new efforts leading to: Accelerating Clean Energy Permitting; and Expanding and Modernizing the Electric Grid. Additionally, by: Unlocking Long-Term Investment in Clean Energy Innovation; Increasing Fuel Economy Standards; Developing and Deploying Advanced Transportation Technologies; Establishing a New Goal for Energy Efficiency Standards; Reducing Barriers to Investment in Energy Efficiency; Expanding the President's Better Buildings Challenge; Reducing Other Greenhouse Gas Emissions such as Hydrofluorocarbons and Methane; and Preserving the Role of Forests in Mitigating Climate Change.
    The Plan calls for the Federal government to be a leader in clean energy and energy efficiency. Under the Obama Administration, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 percent. The Plan calls for establishing a new goal: The Federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 -- more than double the current goal of 7.5 percent. In addition, the Federal government will continue to pursue greater energy efficiency that reduces greenhouse gas
emissions and saves taxpayer dollars.
    To prepare the country for the inevitable impacts of climate change the Plan calls for: Directing Agencies to Support Climate-Resilient Investment; Establishing a State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness; Supporting Communities as they Prepare for Climate Impacts; Boosting the Resilience of Buildings and Infrastructure; Rebuilding and Learning from Hurricane Sandy; Identifying Vulnerabilities of Key Sectors to Climate Change; Promoting Resilience in the Health Sector; Promoting Insurance Leadership for Climate Safety; Conserving Land and Water Resources; Maintaining Agricultural Sustainability; Managing Drought; Reducing Wildfire Risks; Preparing for Future Floods; and Using Sound Science to Manage Climate Impacts.
    On the international front, the Plan indicates that major international initiatives focused on spurring concrete action, including bilateral initiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries will be continued and undertaken. The Plan proposes that the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (17 countries with 75% of GHG emissions) build on these efforts by launching a major initiative this year focused on further accelerating efficiency gains in the buildings sector; Intensifying bilateral climate cooperation with China, India and Brazil; Combating Short-Lived Climate Pollutant like methane, black carbon, and many HFCs; Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation; Expanding Clean Energy Use and Cut Energy Waste; Negotiating Global Free Trade in Environmental Goods and Services; Phasing Out Subsidies that Encourage Wasteful Consumption of Fossil Fuels; Strengthening Global Resilience to Climate Change; Mobilizing Climate Finance; and Leading Efforts to Address Climate Change through International Negotiations.
    Access a link to the President's speech on his climate action plan which should be posted soon (click here). Access a video of the President's speech (click here). Access the complete 21-page Climate Action Plan (click here). Access the Presidential Memo on Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards (click here). Access a fact sheet from the White House (click here). Access a visual presentation of the President's Plan (click here). Access the White House climate change website for additional information (click here). [#Climate]

Some Initial Reaction To The President's Climate Plan - Jul 25: The following is some of the initial reaction to President Obama's Climate Change Action Plan:
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, "At a time when millions of Americans remain out of work and the cost of groceries, gas, and health care continues to rise, it is astonishing that President Obama is unilaterally imposing new regulations that will cost jobs and increase energy prices. The president has always been hostile to affordable sources of American energy that power most of our economy, but this program – which amounts to a National Energy Tax – only escalates his attack.  The president's advisor calls it a 'War on Coal,' but it's even more than that. These policies, rejected even by the last Democratic-controlled Congress, will shutter power plants, destroy good-paying American jobs, and raise electricity bills for families that can scarcely afford it. The last thing our economy needs right now is another layer of government red tape that will make it harder to grow businesses and hire more workers.  America needs more affordable energy options, not fewer.  That's why House Republicans are committed to a true all-of-the-above energy approach that will lower energy prices and create good American jobs.  And it's why we continue to call on the president to approve the Keystone pipeline and the tens of thousands of jobs that will come along with it."
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, "In advance of the President's big speech today, I read this morning that one of the White House's climate advisors finally admitted something most of us have long suspected anyway. He said 'a War on Coal is exactly what's needed' in this country. Exactly what's needed -- that's really what he said. It's an astonishing bit of honesty from someone that close to the White House. But it really encapsulates the attitude this Administration holds in regard to states like mine, where coal is such an important part of the economic well-being of so many middle-class families. And it captures the attitude it holds in regard to middle-class Americans across the country, where affordable energy is critical to the operation of so many companies and small businesses -- and to those businesses' ability to hire Americans and help build a ladder to the middle class for their families. Declaring a 'War on Coal' is tantamount to declaring a war on jobs. It's tantamount to kicking the ladder out from beneath the feet of many Americans struggling in today's economy. And I will be raising this issue with the President at the White House today. . ."
House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change said, "The President is absolutely right to act now. We have a moral imperative to protect the environment for our children and future generations. We are at a crossroads.  Every year we delay, the impacts will worsen and the costs will rise.  But if we act now, we can lead the world in developing the clean energy technologies of the future." Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the other Co-Chair of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change said, "For too long, the barricade of special interests in Washington has stopped Congress from acting against carbon pollution. President Obama knows that we can't wait to address this issue. We're already paying the costs of climate change.  Our oceans are warmer, more acidic, and rising; our seasons are shifting; and the dice are loaded for more frequent and more severe extreme weather events.  I applaud President Obama for taking action today to protect the planet for future generations."
Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): "The president nailed it: this can't wait. We will cut this carbon pollution today so our children don't inherit climate chaos tomorrow. We owe that to future generations, and we owe it to ourselves. That's the single most important thing we can do, as a nation, to confront this widening scourge. Climate change is the central environmental crisis of our time. It is taking a grievous and growing toll on our country, threatening our people and imperiling our future. The president promised to do something about it. Today he turned that promise into action."
Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) senior counsel, reiterated CBD's call to halt Keystone XL immediately and establish a national pollution cap for carbon dioxide. He said, "We're happy to see the President finally addressing climate change but the plain truth is that what he's proposing isn't big enough, and doesn't move fast enough, to match the terrifying magnitude of the climate crisis. The president, like all of us, needs to be able to look across the dinner table at his children and know he's doing all he can to ensure they inherit a planet that's healthy and livable. This plan is a small step in the right direction but certainly begs for something bigger and bolder. Strong rhetoric and politically comfortable half-measures won't achieve what scientists tell us must be done to address the climate problem. The White House can't punt on hard climate questions, from the carbon cap to Keystone XL, Arctic drilling and fracking on public lands. It's time for strong action and strong leadership."
American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Jack Gerard said, "The President recognizes the important role natural gas has played in reducing CO2 levels to near 20 year lows, thanks to private investments in energy exploration, production and refining. Those investments in America's energy potential have led us to the point of being the world's largest producer of natural gas, and flipped plans to import LNG into plans to export it. But by recycling his plans to raise taxes on U.S. oil and natural gas companies, President Obama runs the risk of unwinding the significant environmental benefits from natural gas, threatens our economic recovery and dampens our ability to create millions of jobs for Americans. Ironically, the President's plan to raise taxes by eliminating cost recovery for U.S. oil and natural gas companies would jeopardize his own climate goals by making some of those investments uneconomic. After a handful of years, we would see less domestic energy production -- particularly of natural gas -- more imports, fewer new jobs, and, eventually, depressed tax, royalty and other revenues to governments at all levels."
National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons said, "President Obama today revealed his most ambitious regulatory agenda yet, one that would remake the entire U.S. economy. During the campaign, the President regularly touted increasing manufacturing jobs, and he rightly recognized that a strong and vibrant manufacturing sector is key to robust and sustained economic growth and job creation. Unfortunately, under his watch, he seems intent on taking actions that would put manufacturing in the United States out of business. The President's plan puts our country on a path toward the elimination of fossil fuels from our energy mix that is wholly inconsistent with his promotion of an 'all-of-the-above' energy plan just a few months ago. . ." 
Eileen Claussen, President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) said, "President Obama is laying out a credible, comprehensive strategy to use the tools at his disposal to strengthen the U.S. response to climate change. His plan recognizes that the costs of climate change are real and rising, and that to minimize them we must both cut our carbon output and strengthen our climate resilience. Putting these critical issues before the American public is itself a step forward. But it will require continued presidential leadership to translate the plan's good intentions into concrete policy. The most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is for Congress to enact an economy-wide price on carbon. As long as Congress is unwilling to act, the president is right to use his powers under the Clean Air Act to curb emissions from power plants, by far the largest unregulated source of U.S. carbon emissions. Many companies are prepared to work with the administration on pragmatic approaches that cut emissions while keeping U.S. electricity affordable and reliable. Companies want regulatory certainty and know that continued inaction exposes them to increasing climate risks. In crafting the power plant rules, EPA should consult widely with utilities and with the states, which ultimately must implement them. We strongly encourage EPA to devise a flexible strategy that allows a variety of state-level policies, including market-based approaches, and allows utilities to cut emissions at the lowest possible cost. . ."
    Access a release from Speaker Boehner (click here). Access a lengthy statement from Sen. McConnell (click here). Access a release from the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from CBD (click here). Access a release from API (click here). Access a release from NAM (click here). Access a release from C2ES (click here). [#Climate]
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