Obama un­veils first-ever lim­its on US plant emis­sions


Pres­i­dent Barack Obama framed cli­mate change as the tough­est and most press­ing chal­lenge of our time Mon­day, as he un­veiled the first ever lim­its on U.S. power plant emis­sions.

“No chal­lenge poses a greater threat to our fu­ture and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions than a change in cli­mate,” Obama said, warn­ing: “There is such a thing as be­ing too late.”

“This is one of those rare is­sues, be­cause of its mag­ni­tude, be­cause of its scope, that if we don’t get it right, we may not be able to re­verse,” he said, at the White House.

“We may not be able to adapt suf­fi­ciently.”

In an at­tempt to at least try to slow the process, Obama an- nounced that power plant own­ers must cut car­bon diox­ide emis­sions by 32 per­cent from 2005 lev­els by 2030.

Elec­tric power plants ac­count for some 40 per­cent of U.S. emis­sions of car­bon diox­ide, the most com­mon green­house gas that con­trib­utes to cli­mate change.

Obama de­scribed the move as “the sin­gle most im­por­tant step Amer­ica has ever taken in the fight against global cli­mate change.”

The an­nounce­ment fires the start­ing gun on a months-long en­vi­ron­men­tal drive that will shape his legacy.

Later this Au­gust, Obama will be­come the first pres­i­dent to visit the Alaskan Arc­tic.

“Our fel­low Amer­i­cans have al­ready seen their com­mu­ni­ties dev­as­tated by melt­ing ice and ris- ing oceans,” Obama said.

In Septem­ber, when Obama hosts Pope Fran­cis at the White House, they are ex­pected to make an im­pas­sioned col­lec­tive call for ac­tion.

And in De­cem­ber, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from around the world will gather in Paris to hash out rules de­signed to limit global tem­per­a­ture in­creases to 2 de­grees Cel­sius.


But Obama’s in­vo­ca­tions got short shrift from the op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Party, which con­trols both houses of the U.S. Congress and which de­scribed the mea­sures as “over­reach” and “heavy-handed.”

In its ini­tial pro­posal a year ago, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had set the car­bon emis­sions cut from the power sec­tor at 30 per­cent.

Cli­mate change is a hot-but­ton is­sue in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and cuts are po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive be­cause coal, among the dirt­i­est energy sources, re­mains a ma­jor U.S. in­dus­try.

It has some in­flu­en­tial sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, a sen­a­tor from coal-rich Ken­tucky.

“Not only will these mas­sive reg­u­la­tions fail to mean­ing­fully af­fect the global cli­mate, but they could ac­tu­ally end up harm­ing the en­vi­ron­ment by out­sourc­ing energy pro­duc­tion to coun­tries with poor en­vi­ron­men­tal records like In­dia and China,” said McCon­nell.

The leader of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Kevin McCarthy ac­cused Obama of choos­ing a “green legacy over a grow­ing econ­omy.”

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