Tag Archives: Clean Power Plan

Obama vetoes GOP push to kill climate rules

Repost from The Hill

Obama vetoes GOP push to kill climate rules

By Timothy Cama – 12/19/15 08:35 AM EST 
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President Obama has vetoed a pair of measures by congressional Republicans that would have overturned the main pillars of his landmark climate change rules for power plants.

The decision was widely expected, and Obama and his staff had repeatedly threatened the action as a way to protect a top priority and major part of his legacy.

The White House announced early Saturday morning, as Obama was flying to Hawaii for Christmas vacation, that he is formally not taking action on the congressional measures, which counts as a “pocket veto” under the law. “Climate change poses a profound threat to our future and future generations,” the president said in a statement about Republicans’ attempt to kill the carbon dioxide limits for existing power plants.

“The Clean Power Plan is a tremendously important step in the fight against global climate change,” Obama wrote, adding that “because the resolution would overturn the Clean Power Plan, which is critical to protecting against climate change and ensuring the health and well-being of our nation, I cannot support it.”

That rule from the Environmental Protection Agency mandates a 32 percent cut in the power sector’s carbon output by 2030.

He had a similar argument in support of his regulation setting carbon limits for newly-built fossil fuel power plants, saying the legislation against it “would delay our transition to cleaner electricity generating technologies by enabling continued build-out of outdated, high-polluting infrastructure.”

Congress passed the resolutions in November and December under the Congressional Review Act, a little-used law that gives lawmakers a streamlined way to quickly challenge regulations from the executive branch.

Obama had made clear his intent to veto the measures early on, so the passage by both GOP-led chambers of Congress was only symbolic.

The votes came before and during the United Nations’ major climate change conference in Paris, as an attempt to undermine Obama’s negotiating position toward an international climate pact.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and a vocal climate change doubter, said it’s important to send a message about congressional disapproval, even with Obama’s veto.

“While I fully expect these CRA resolutions to be vetoed, without the backing of the American people and the Congress, there will be no possibility of legislative resurrection once the courts render the final judgments on the president’s carbon mandates,” he said on the Senate floor shortly before the Senate’s action on the resolutions.

Twenty-seven states and various energy and business interests are suing the Obama administration to stop the existing plant rule, saying it violates the Clean Air Act and states’ constitutional rights.

They are seeking an immediate halt to the rule while it is litigated, something the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit could decide on later this month.

All Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election want to overturn the rules.

In addition to the veto, Obama is formally sending the resolutions back to the Senate to make clear his intent to disapprove of them.

Obama has now vetoed seven pieces of legislation, including five this year, the first year of his presidency with the GOP controlling both chambers of Congress.

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    NRDC: Paris Climate Agreement Explained

    Repost from the Natural Resources Defense Council

    Paris Climate Agreement Explained

    By Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director of Programs with Emily Cousins, December 12, 2015
    Credit: Shun Kambe

    How we’ll deliver on the promise of ambitious climate action.
    The global community signed an historic agreement today at the Paris climate talks to tackle the threat of climate change and accelerate the shift to clean energy around the world. This is a momentous breakthrough. Nearly 200 countries have pledged to reduce their climate change pollution, strengthen their climate commitments every five years, protect people living on the front lines of climate impacts, and help developing nations expand their clean energy economies.

    Most important, this agreement sets ambitious goals. It calls for holding global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, with a first step of keeping us at no more than 2 degrees of warming.

    Reaching the 2-degree target is essential to prevent catastrophic climate impacts, but scientists say it still leaves us open to dangerous levels of rising seas, food insecurity, and extreme drought. It would make the Marshall Islands and other island nations uninhabitable and expose countless vulnerable communities to deadly harm. Keeping the temperature rise at no more than 1.5 degrees will sustain these communities and create a brighter, more stable future for our children and grandchildren.

    This is an ambitious goal, but the past two weeks in Paris confirm it is achievable.

    In Paris, an action agenda emerged out of a groundswell of climate action from cities, regions, businesses, investors, trade unions, and many others. Mayors and governors described what they are already doing to reduce carbon pollution and how they plan to do more. Multinational corporations said they are cutting carbon pollution across their operations. Financial institutions reported that renewable energy is a better investment than fossil fuels. Leaders from developing nations explained that clean energy is helping to generate economic growth and bring people out of poverty. And thousands of people from all over the world stood up for climate action. This groundswell has the backs of our national leaders in implementing ambitious climate policies. This is what climate leadership looks like.

    The low-carbon transition is already underway. Now the Paris agreement calls on us to return home, pick up the pace, and go faster into the clean energy future. And it gives us the tools to hold our government leaders accountable.

    In China, that means building on the country’s commitment to implement a cap-and-trade program and increase non-fossil-fuel energy sources to 20 percent of total energy by 2030. In India, that means leapfrogging over dirty fossil fuels and using clean, renewable, and efficient energy to power its growth. Meeting the country’s solar mission alone will create 1 million jobs. India has already vowed to increase renewable energy sixfold by 2020 and to set mandatory efficiency standards for buildings by 2017.

    The United States can also build on existing progress. All 50 states are on track to implement the Clean Power Plan for limiting carbon pollution from power plants; they need to focus on doing this through energy efficiency and an increase in wind and solar. We can continue to improve fuel efficiency standards and move to a combination of electric vehicles and smarter growth in transportation. Next up, we’ll work on getting existing oil and gas facilities to reduce their methane emissions and on the phase-out of fossil fuel development on federal lands and in federal waters. And U.S. businesses should continue not only to improve their own energy efficiency but to band together to advocate for stronger clean energy and climate policies.

    This work won’t be easy. The Paris agreement — and our obligation to future generations — demands that nations transform how we think about electricity, transportation, industry, methane from fracking, HFCs from air conditioning, agriculture, and other contributors to climate change. It also requires helping developing countries face the challenges of poverty alleviation, energy equity, and climate justice. And here in the United States, it entails going up against entrenched fossil fuel interests and those politicians who persist in denying climate change.

    These are significant hurdles, but citizens, businesses, and political leaders around the globe have made it clear that we support strong climate action. This momentum will carry us forward. And the Paris climate agreement and action agenda will provide the road map.

    Irina Bokova, the director-general of UNESCO, said at an NRDC event last week, “When we speak about climate, we speak about humanity.” Our future is at stake here. For the human community to thrive, we need a stable climate. The Paris agreement and commitments will help ensure that our families, nations, and societies can flourish for generations to come.

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      As World Leaders Craft Climate-Change Plan, ALEC Plots Its Downfall

      Repost from Public News Service – AZ
      [Editor:  This is an important – and alarming – report.  Thanks to Mary Bottari, deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy, and to Public News Service for covering this story.  – RS]

      As World Leaders Craft Climate-Change Plan, ALEC Plots Its Downfall

      By Mark Richardson | December 8, 2015
      ALEC is funded in part by a number of large energy corporations that oppose pollution limits for the nation's power plants. (morguefile.com/Click)
      ALEC is funded in part by a number of large energy corporations that oppose pollution limits for the nation’s power plants. (morguefile.com)

      SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – At the same time world leaders gathered in Paris to find a solution for global climate change, another group has been meeting in Arizona to formulate a plan to scuttle their efforts.

      Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council met behind closed doors for three days in Scottsdale, in part to develop a game plan to undermine any agreements to limit carbon pollution. According to Mary Bottari, deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC’s members, which include global oil and gas companies and giant utility firms, are planning a full-court press at state legislatures in 2016.

      “They actually have model bills rolling back renewable energy. They have model bills rolling back wages, by pre-empting prevailing wages for construction workers, or living wages for other folks,” she said. “So, it’s a very interesting, very ‘retrograde’ agenda.”

      Bottari, whose group tracks ALEC and its activities, said ALEC normally pushes its agenda by promoting model legislation to states. However, she said, the group now has moved beyond that to a direct campaign against President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which calls for a 32 percent cut in carbon emissions across the United States by 2030.

      ALEC has organized the attorneys general in 24 states to sue the Environmental Protection Agency in the name of states’ rights. Bottari said they want to block the administration from implementing any plan to limit the types of pollution that most scientists say are man-made contributors to climate change. She said ALEC has some heavyweight players in its corner.

      “Giants like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, and also energy traders like Koch Industries and those kinds of folks,” she said. “These people do not want to see a global climate agreement; they want to continue burning fossil fuels ’til the end of time.”

      Even if ALEC can’t stop plans to halt climate change, Bottari said, it hopes to cast doubt on the validity of the science behind them, or delay action on any treaties until after the presidential election.

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        NPR: President Obama Unveils New Power Plant Rules In ‘Clean Power Plan’

        Repost from National Public Radio (NPR)
        [Editor: The 29-minute video doesn’t really begin until minute 4:00 with Gina McCarthy of the EPA.  President Obama takes the podium at minute 4:25.  – RS]

        President Obama Unveils New Power Plant Rules In ‘Clean Power Plan’

        August 03, 2015 2:30 PM ET

        President Obama formally unveiled his plan to cut power plant emissions — some two years in the making — calling it the “single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change.”

        Speaking at the White House, the president said the plan includes the first-ever Environmental Protection Agency standards on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. Over the next few years, each state will have the chance to create its own plan, he said, adding: “We’ll reward the states that take action sooner.”

        Toward the end of his remarks, Obama cited other environmental issues, such as combating acid rain, where efforts have been successful even though it seemed hard at the time.

        “We can figure this stuff out, as long as we’re not lazy about it,” he said.

        The president compared the requirement of cutting carbon emissions by 32 percent to taking 166 million cars off the road.

        Our original post continues:

        In a new push to confront climate change, President Obama is announcing new standards that would cut the amount of carbon pollution produced by America’s power plants.

        “These are the first-ever national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which adds that power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., generating 32 percent of the total emissions.

        Key elements of the Clean Power Plan include a requirement that would cut the power industry’s carbon pollution by 32 percent below 2005 levels in the next 15 years. The plan also seeks to boost renewable energy.

        The White House says that between now and 2015, the changes will mean better health for Americans — preventing up to 3,600 premature deaths — along with bringing energy savings for U.S. consumers.

        You can read the plan at the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

        NPR’s Scott Horsley reports:

        “The final version of the EPA’s clean power plan requires somewhat deeper cuts in power plant emissions than a draft version made public a year ago. The power plant rule is the centerpiece of President Obama’s broader climate agenda. And he’s urging other big countries to take similarly aggressive action in advance of an international climate summit in Paris later this year.

        “Opponents, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, have promised to fight the climate rule, and they’re urging states not to comply with the EPA regulation.

        “The final rule does provide a somewhat more flexible timeline for power companies, with the deadline for action pushed back two years to 2022.”

        The president is announcing the plan along with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

        In announcing the plan Monday, the EPA also said, “2014 was the hottest year in recorded history, and 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the first 15 years of this century.”

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