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Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Leadership, Tyranny or Something in Between? by Victor S. Reuther

Posted by: | April 29, 2014 Comments Off on Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Leadership, Tyranny or Something in Between? by Victor S. Reuther |

To most Americans, regardless of their ideological persuasions, the Obama Administration’s approach to combating climate change is controversial. Some characterize it as a lukewarm stream of disappointment; others a war on affordable energy, good-paying jobs, and American prosperity. The national discourse surrounding the significance of climate change is highly polarized, reflecting a longstanding chasm among our nation’s people. At the heart of the debate over President Obama’s climate action plan is whether the government should regulate carbon pollution through a source-based or system-based model. The ramifications of this choice are significant. This blog entry explores the arguments surrounding adoption of a source-based and system-based model for reducing carbon emissions in the United States.

On June 25, 2013, President Obama issued a memorandum directing the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin working on carbon pollution regulations for modified, reconstructed, future, and most controversially, existing power plants. That same day at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the President declared, “The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren. As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.” Seeking the moral high ground, President Obama invoked the significance of taking action today to safeguard the generations of tomorrow.

The Obama Administration’s clarion call for action targets the energy sector’s 1,500 power plants, which together constitute the United States’ largest source of greenhouse gases. The controversial crux of EPA’s anticipated regulations relates to their impact on an existing fleet of 600 coal-fired power plants, providing 40% of our nation’s energy supply. To date, these power plants have eluded significant pollution control technology due to a grandfathering provision under section 111 of the Clean Air Act. The Obama Administration is ending this longstanding exemption.

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under: Climate Change, Energy, General
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