During President Barack Obama’s official announcement of America’s Clean Power Plan, he recalled arriving in Los Angeles from Hawaii for college as an 18-year-old in 1979. Filled with energy, he decided to go for a run. But after five minutes, he felt unable to breathe due to the city’s smog.
“We only get one home. We only get one planet. There’s no plan B,” he said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan sets the first standards limiting carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. And the plan’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030.
Obama said that’s the equivalent of taking 166 million cars of U.S. roads.
“This is one of those rare issues—because of its magnitude, because of its scope—that if we don’t get it right we may not be able to reverse, and we may not be able to adapt sufficiently,” said Obama.
According to the White House, one-third of America’s carbon pollution comes from power plants. Already, the U.S. limits the amount of toxic chemicals, such as mercury, sulfur and arsenic in air and water. “But existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air we breathe,” Obama said.
Obama said this generation is the first to feel the impacts of climate change, and is the last to be able to do something about it.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 10 of the warmest years on record, globally, have occurred since 1998. And recent weather events, from droughts to fires, are causes of concern, according to Obama.
“The U.S. has cut our total carbon emissions more than any nation on Earth,” but “the science tells us we have to do more,” Obama said.
Obama explained that over the next few years, each state will have a chance to come up with their own plan, as each state isn’t at the same starting place. He noted the road will be hard, but he is convinced climate change is a solvable problem. State plans are due by September 2016, but states can request a two-year extension.
According to the White House, the plan “will drive significant new investment in cleaner, more modern and more efficient technologies, creating tens of thousands of jobs. Under the Clean Power Plan, by 2030, renewables will account for 28% of our capacity, up from 22% in the proposed rule. Due to these improvements, the Clean Power Plan will save the average American nearly $85 on their energy bill in 2030, and save consumers a total of $155 billion through 2020 to 2030, reducing enough energy to power 30 million homes.”
“We can figure this stuff out as long as we’re not lazy about it,” Obama said.
“If we don’t do it, nobody will,” he said.
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