Obama to unveil tougher climate change plan

2015-08-02 22:33
Japan is proposing to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 26% by 2030 amid international efforts to set a new framework for addressing climate change.  (Koji Sasahara, AP, File)

Japan is proposing to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 26% by 2030 amid international efforts to set a new framework for addressing climate change. (Koji Sasahara, AP, File)

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Washington - President Barack Obama will unveil on Monday the final version of his plan to tackle greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, kicking off what is expected to be a tumultuous legal battle against federal environmental regulators by the coal industry and its political allies.

The revised Clean Power Plan will seek to slash carbon emissions from the power sector by 32% by 2030 from 2005 levels, a nine percent increase over a previous proposal, a senior White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity ahead of Monday's official launch.

The regulation is aimed at ushering in a sweeping transformation of the US electricity sector, encouraging an aggressive shift toward more renewable energy away from coal-fired electricity.

Industry groups and some lawmakers from states that have relied on coal-based energy have vowed to challenge it in the courts and through Congressional maneuvers, accusing the administration of a regulatory assault that will drive up energy prices.

The White House took a defiant stance, saying the release of the plan was "the starting gun for an all-out climate push" by the president and his cabinet.

"My administration will release the final version of America's Clean Power Plan, the biggest, most important step we have ever taken to combat climate change," Obama said in a video posted by the White House.

He said there have been no federal limits to date on carbon pollution from power plants, the biggest source of US greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan will be central to the United States' contribution to a United Nations agreement to tackle climate change. The Obama administration has vowed to play a leadership role in global climate talks in Paris later this year.

Each state will be required to submit a plan to the Environmental Protection Agency next year, spelling out how it will meet an emission-cutting goal assigned to it.

Five governors who have opposed the rule have already said they will not comply.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is trying to use the climate issue as a wedge against Republican candidates with her own Clean Energy Challenge to boost the use of renewable power sources such as solar energy, praised Obama's plan. "It's a good plan, and as president, I'd defend it," Clinton said in a release.

Cutting bills

The final version of the plan will accelerate the deployment of renewable energy based on updated projections that the share of renewable energy generation capacity in 2030 will be 28%, up from 22% in last June's draft.

The Obama administration also changed its projection about the share of natural gas in the US power mix in 2020, avoiding what it said would be an "early rush to gas" away from coal.

"Instead, the rule drives early reductions from renewable energy and energy efficiency, which will drive a more aggressive transformation in the domestic energy industry," according to a senior administration official.

The revised rule contains two new measures the administration said will "cut energy bills for low-income families" and drive down renewable energy technology costs, pre-empting arguments by opponents that the plan will be too costly.

It will create a Clean Energy Incentive Program to reward states that take early action to deploy renewable energy projects before the regulation takes effect in 2022.

It will also reward states that invest in energy-efficiency projects in low-income communities in 2020 and 2021.

Read more on:    epa  |  barack obama  |  us  |  climate change

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