President Obama announced on June 25 that he would use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants.
His three-part plan includes new federal spending to advance renewable energy technology, and will also seek to protect cities and states from extreme weather events that scientists are increasingly blaming on global warming.
The debate is finished on whether human activity is warming the earth, Obama said. “The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it is too late.”
“We need to act,” Obama told students and others at Georgetown University. “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that is beyond saving.”
Obama is being forced to rely on executive authority to take action on global warming because all significant action on the matter has been blocked in Congress.
Obama said the 1,200-mile pipeline from oil sands formations in Alberta to refineries in the Midwest and the Gulf Coast should be built only if it did not have a major effect on the climate.
“The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward,” Obama said.
Republicans said Obama’s plan was a government overreach that would harm energy production and the nation’s economic recovery.
“These policies, rejected even by the last Democratic-controlled Congress, will shutter power plants, destroy good-paying American jobs and raise electricity bills for families that can scarcely afford it,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement released before Mr. Obama spoke.
Mr. Obama proposed the first limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants and said he would complete pending rules for new plants. He plans to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to work with states and industries to devise standards for emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from existing power plants by June 2014, according to presidential aides, and will finalize the rules in June of the following year.
The president will also direct the agency to complete standards for new fossil fuel power plants by the end of September. The rules, first proposed in April 2012, were supposed to be completed by April but are being rewritten to address potential legal and technical problems.