News / USA

Obama Proposes Limits on Power Plant Pollution

FILE - A flock of Geese fly past the smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the suns sets near Emmett, Kansas.
FILE - A flock of Geese fly past the smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the suns sets near Emmett, Kansas.
Rosanne Skirble
The Obama administration is proposing stronger regulations to limit climate-changing emissions from U.S. power plants.The proposed pollution rules will help protect the nation’s health, but also put the United States in a stronger leadership position to curb global warming.

In his most recent address to the nation, President Obama called the new rule critical.
Domestic Emissions of Greenhouse Gasses, 2012Domestic Emissions of Greenhouse Gasses, 2012
x
Domestic Emissions of Greenhouse Gasses, 2012
Domestic Emissions of Greenhouse Gasses, 2012
“Today about 40 percent of America’s carbon pollution comes from power plants," he said. "But right now there are no national limits to the amount of carbon pollution that existing plants can pump into the air we breathe.”

The new Clean Power Plan targets the nation’s more than 600 coal-fired power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said it is a moral obligation to act for the sake of public health.

"When we do, we will turn climate risk into business opportunity, we will spur innovation and investment and we will be a world-leading clean energy economy,” she said.

The plan would require a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. McCarthy says a flexible approach is built into how states comply.

“Each state is different, so each goal and each path can be different," she said.

The proposal offers a broad array of actions, says Kevin Kennedy, who directs the U.S. Climate Initiative for the World Resources Institute.    

“The flexibility that she is talking about is the flexibility to look at the entire electricity system," he said "So, that you can look at energy efficiency. You can look at renewables. You can look at switching fuels from coal to natural gas, making more use of existing natural gas plants that have been sitting relatively idle for the last decade.”

Coal plants supply nearly one-third the U.S. electric supply. The new rule could shut down plants, eliminate jobs and raise electric rates, says Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA official who represents the coal industry for the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani. He says higher electric rates could also push industrial operations abroad.  

“And to some extent we are seeing that happen already in Europe, where Europe has had almost no investment from heavy industry and heavy industries that formerly were in Europe are moving to China or India and in some cases even the United States because power prices here  today are significantly lower than they are in Europe,” he said.

Holmstead says the administration is wrong to put a regulation in place that critics say does little to solve the climate problem. He suggests investment in a technological fix would go further to address the issue.

“And until we can figure out a way that to allow countries around the world to have the benefits we enjoy from reliable affordable power, without coal, it is not going to make any difference at all to impose expensive requirements in the United States,” he said.

Kennedy agrees that rules alone are not enough, but says the plan is an important signal to the global community that the United States is taking a leadership role in the battle against climate change.

“That makes it much more likely that you will be able to get a strong international agreement next year, where you would expect to see China and India and other countries coming to the table more willing to think about reductions on their own, now that the United States is seriously acting," said Kennedy.

After a year-long comment period, the EPA rules will be finalized. A legal challenge from the coal power industry is expected to follow. U.N. negotiators hope to have a new global warming treaty in place by 2015.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid