People, Environment

Obama Unveils Plan to Tackle Climate Change

Obama Unveils Plan to Tackle Climate ChangeObama Unveils Plan to Tackle Climate Change

US President Barack Obama challenged America and the world to step up efforts to fight global warming on Monday at the formal unveiling of his administration’s controversial, ramped-up plan to cut carbon emissions from US power plants.

Declaring climate change as the greatest threat facing the world, Obama said the regulation requiring the power sector to cut its emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030 would reduce Americans’ energy bills and improve the health of vulnerable populations nationwide, Reuters reported.

The plan, which also mandates a shift to renewable energy from coal-fired electricity, is meant to put the United States in a strong position at international talks in Paris later this year on reaching a deal to curb global warming.

Obama is enacting the plan by executive order, bypassing Congress, which rejected legislative attempts to reduce pollution from carbon dioxide, a common greenhouse gas blamed by scientists for heating the earth.

The regulations face certain legal challenges from states and industries, and their long-term fate depends on their ability to withstand such challenges.

The Clean Power Plan is intended to be a key part of the president’s legacy on global warming, which he pledged to fight as a candidate for the White House in 2008.

“We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change. We’re the last generation that can do something about it,” Obama told a sympathetic audience at the White House.

“We only get one home. We only get one planet. There’s no plan B.”

  Republican Opposition

Obama’s announcement drew immediate condemnation from Republicans.

Even before the rule was announced, many states announced plans to fight it, including some vows to take the administration to court over the new rules.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged states not to comply with the plan in a letter to all 50 governors, CNN reported.

McConnell said the new rules would shutter power plants and drive up electricity costs.

“I will do everything I can to stop it,” he said.

Critics also said the plan will bring unwelcome increases in electricity prices.

“This plan is all pain and no gain,” said Luke Popovich, vice president of communications for the National Mining Association. “That’s why state leaders across the country are coming to the same conclusion—that we should not sacrifice our power system to an unworkable plan built on a faulty interpretation of the law.”

Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner called the plan an “energy tax” that the administration wanted to issue during a slow recovery from recession.

“I believe this final plan is an expensive, arrogant insult to Americans who are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

Obama rejected criticism that his plan would increase energy bills for Americans, hurt the poor and cost jobs.

“This is the right thing to do,” he said.

In a conference call with the press, Gina McCarthy, administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, said the plan would cost a total of $8.4 billion with total benefits expected to be $34 billion to $54 billion.

“Some special interest critics will tell you that it can’t be done,” McCarthy said on Sunday. “They’ll say we have to focus on the economy at the expense of the environment. They’ll tell you EPA’s plan will turn the lights off and send utility bills through the roof but they are wrong.”

A multimillion-dollar campaign backed by the energy industry has sought to debunk the science of climate change, but polls show most Americans believe the planet is warming.