President Obama Outlines New Regulatory Push on Climate Change

Today, President Obama announced broad and expansive plans to use executive authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's electric utilities.  The proposal would be the first ever for existing power plants, directing the EPA to issue new rules by June 2014 to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Strong criticism came from House Speaker John Boehner shortly before today's speech. In a statement he said, “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.” 

Among the many provisions and programs laid out in the President's remarks and "Climate Action Plan" (see attached), it largely revolves around three key tenets:

  • Use the Clean Air Act to cut greenhouse gas emissions. His remarks noted that carbon emissions in 2012 fell to their lowest level in two decades. 
  • Prepare and mitigate against the impacts of climate change. According to plan draft, the 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."
  • Lead international efforts to combat global climate change by assuming leadership roles to engage large, energy-intensive countries like China (the world's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions) and India to significantly reduce emissions, prepare for climate impacts, and drive the international negotiation process

In addition to proposing sweeping new air regulations on existing fossil fuel power plants (which comprise roughly 40% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions), the Administration action plan also seeks to accelerate the permitting of renewable energy projects on public land. Under the plan, the President proposes permitting another 10 gigawatts of renewable energy projects by 2020. Further, the President previewed additional future regulations on increasing fuel-efficiency standards for heavy duty trucks as well as new energy efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings

His remarks also outlined the Administration's goal of increasing federal research and development funding by 30% to nearly $8 billion for alternative and renewable energy as well as the Department of Energy''s upcoming solicitation of proposals for $8 billion in loan guarantees for projects that help reduce and sequester greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

A fact sheet on the remaining details of the plan provided by the White House can be found here.