Obama takes on climate change, fossil fuel

Yesterday, President Barack Obama addressed climate change head on, calling for stricter regulation of pollution from power plants, which emit 33% of the country’s carbon dioxide.

The President detailed his strategy to take on climate change. His plan intends to:

  • Limit carbon emissions from current power plants
  • Strengthen standards on all new power plants
  • Slash fossil fuel subsidies
  • Strengthen energy efficiency standards on automobiles
  • Support increased production of renewable energy by offering “$8 billion in loan guarantees for clean energy projects” and by ensuring that there are enough renewable energy permits for all of the households that need them
  • Help prepare for natural disasters and extreme weather that may accompany climate change
  • Force the State Department to determine whether the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would increase overall carbon emissions before approving its development

As a president, as a father and as an American, I’m here to say, ‘We need to act.’ I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing. — President Obama

Obama’s plan relies on executive authority and does not require Congressional approval.

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline applauded Obama’s cautious stance, while some environmentalists felt the speech wasn’t as tough on the fossil fuel industry as they would have liked.

“Obama once pushed for an ambitious cap-and-trade bill, and pledged to eliminate the generous tax loopholes for oil and gas companies,” Reid J. Epstein and Jennifer Epstein said in Politico. “Now, he’s offering new rules for power plants and energy efficiency — steps environmentalists praise, though hardly the sweeping agenda they’d once envisioned.”

Daniel Gross said the mention of energy-efficient consumer goods was the most practical idea raised. “And to me, this idea—the notion of improving environmental performance by imposing higher standards on consumer products—is the most powerful and doable of the bunch,” Gross said. “The U.S. is a consumer-driven economy.”

What did you think of President Obama’s speech? Share your insights and thoughts below or by email.

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