History was made on Tuesday, June 25th, when President Obama proposed the most important action EVER to tackle climate change in the United States. FINALLY, we have an adult in the room acknowledging real science and driving solutions to substantially scale back greenhouse gases.
Best of all, Obama can rise above denial hype and face this serious challenge WITHOUT Congress. Obama’s comprehensive climate action plan weaves together dozens of provisions across his administration to significantly reduce the U.S. greenhouse gas profile, shape a cleaner energy future, adapt to changing climate, and engage the international community.
Watch Pres. Obama’s full climate action plan speech below:
The best address on climate by any president ever.” Al Gore
As a centerpiece of Obama’s plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will set limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants—America’s biggest carbon polluters. Using his executive powers (not to be confused with executive priveledge), Obama has the authority and obligation granted by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court to cut carbon pollution. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) president Frances Bieneke points out, “This is the single best thing the president can do.” These reductions, combined with increased fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, puts the U.S. on a trajectory to achieve a 17% carbon reduction from 2005 levels by 2020, a goal set by the Obama Administration at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit.
Without a doubt, environmental groups played a significant role in shaping the President’s plan. As reported by the New York Times, “The administration’s thinking appears to have been influenced by a proposal from an environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council.” In December 2012, NRDC floated a similar proposal that developed a pathway to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act in a flexible, state-by-state manner. NRDC, along with other groups, has been pressing hard for Obama act fast. What a resounding response!
Much more laborious work lies ahead to properly execute Obama’s plan, which will be no easy task. As NRDC’s Frances Bieneke reminds us, “Clean energy opponents will do everything they can to block these climate actions in Congress and encourage states to reject them as well, but we have the law, science, and strong public opinion on our side.” Fortunately Obama’s nomination to head the EPA, Gina McCarthy, was finally approved this week after months of Republican obstruction tactics, and she is up for the job. The continued engagement of environmental and public interest groups in this multi-year process will be essential to successfully meet final deadlines before Obama leaves office.
Hearing the President say it’s time “to lead the world in a coordinated assault on climate change” is music to my ears. Back in 1997, I was hopeful on two fronts. President Clinton signed the Kyoto Treaty and I was pregnant with my first child (a major motivator for my eco-activism). Unfortunately, the treaty was rejected by the Senate. Perpetual foot dragging has stalled any climate progress for the past 16 years. Meanwhile, what’s been happening to the world our kids will inherit? We are increasingly witnessing the consequences of a warming planet, such as Illinois whiplash weather swinging from worst Midwest drought last summer to unrelenting floods this spring, not to mention the calamities happening around the rest of the country and world. We risk continued health, security and economic impacts. Last year, American taxpayers paid $96 billion on droughts, storms, floods, and forest fires, equivalent to 16% of total non-defense discretionary spending in the federal budget. And as of May, our atmosphere has dangerously crossed past the milestone of 400 ppm of Co2, for the first time in about 3 million years. We cannot afford to sit idle. I’m extremely grateful for the environmental groups’ heavy lifting to move forward climate policy. And so relieved our country elected a president that has refused to dodge this issue. THANK YOU President Obama for having the vision and courage to take on carbon! Sasha and Malia must be proud.
We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society.” President Obama
See Republicans that need to go in the video below!