With the full support of President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new measures Monday requiring power plants to cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent before 2030. In an online address, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said:
"Today, as part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, EPA is releasing a proposal to cut harmful carbon pollution from our nation's largest source: power plants." (Via U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Fueling the EPA's work are studies that suggest power plants running on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas make up roughly a third of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. (Via Flickr / simplerich)
According to a press release, the new regulations will prompt states to improve efficiency at the plants and increase the state's percentage of power sourced from clean energy like wind and solar. However, there isn't a hard line to follow, and states are free to meet the goal in any terms they deem fit. States are expected to have plans ready by 2016.
Over the weekend, the commander-in-chief also previewed the goals and explained: (Via U.S. Army)
"As president and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that's beyond fixable. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But a low-carbon, clean-energy economy will be a growth engine for years to come." (Via The White House)
Besides leaving a cleaner planet for future generations, the president also emphasized short-term health effects from the new regulations. Specifically, less emissions could lead to less asthma and heart attacks.
It's important to note, by acting through an EPA regulation rather than proposing a law, the president's executive order can bypass any gridlock from Congress.
However, that move might add fuel to the coal-burning fire — especially in states where representatives see this as an attack on the coal and natural gas industry. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Arnold Paul)
"Critics are already derailing the program saying such an ambitious plan could cost the economy $50 billion annually and that would translate into a lot of jobs being lost." (Via KTTV)
"The administration has set out to kill coal and its 800,000 jobs. If it succeeds by these regulations, we'll pay more for electricity -- if we can get it." (Via GOP.gov)
Others worry consumers, especially those with fixed incomes, could take a hit on their energy bill if it costs more to regulate the plants. The president addressed these concerns in his speech, noting America has a proven track record when it comes to energy innovation. (Via Flickr / Kim Seng)
CNN also says the timing of the proposal is a risk to his own party, with midterm elections only five months away.
"With the midterms just five months away, this is a risk. Democrat Senate candidates are running hard in coal country, and this move could hurt them as they try to keep Republicans from gaining control of the Senate." (Via CNN)
While speaking to The Weather Channel, one analyst says national implications could have a major effect on the world stage as well.
"If we do our job here in the United States, we will send a signal around the world. The Chinese are watching, Europeans are watching and Indians are watching, and we wanted them to know we are in the game and pulling our weight." (Via The Weather Channel)
President Obama will likely discuss energy issues with other world leaders when they converge next week at the G8 Summit.