Tag Archives: Climate Change

Obama to mandate steeper emissions cuts from US power plants

2 Aug

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H.  President Barack Obama on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, will unveil the final version of his unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The Obama administration first proposed the rule last year. Opponents plan to sue immediately to stop the rule's implementation. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

 In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. President Barack Obama on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, will unveil the final version of his unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The Obama administration first proposed the rule last year. Opponents plan to sue immediately to stop the rule’s implementation. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

Aug 2, 5:01 AM (ET) By JOSH LEDERMANNEW YORK (AP)

President Barack Obama will impose even steeper cuts on greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants than previously expected, senior administration officials said Sunday, in what the president called the most significant step the U.S. has ever taken to fight global warming.

A year after proposing unprecedented carbon dioxide limits, Obama was poised to finalize the rule at a White House event on Monday. In a video posted to Facebook, Obama said the limits were backed up by decades of data showing that without tough action, the world will face more extreme weather and escalating health problems like asthma.

“Climate change is not a problem for another generation,” Obama said. “Not anymore.”

Opponents vowed to sue immediately, and planned to ask the courts to put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. Many states have threatened not to comply.

In his initial proposal, Obama had mandated a 30 percent nationwide cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The final version will require a 32 percent cut instead, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity.

The final rule also gives states an additional two years — until 2022 — to comply, officials said, yielding to complaints that the original deadline was too soon. States will also have until 2018 instead of 2017 to submit their plans for how they’ll meet their targets.

But the administration will attempt to incentivize states to take action earlier by offering credits to states that boost renewable sources like wind and solar in 2020 and 2021, officials said.

The focus on renewables marks a significant shift from the earlier version that sought to accelerate the ongoing transition from coal-fired power to natural gas plants, which emit far less carbon dioxide. The revised rule aims to keep the share of natural gas in the nation’s power mix at current levels.

The stricter limits in the final plan were certain to incense energy industry advocates who had already balked at the more lenient limits in the proposed plan. But the Obama administration said its tweaks would cut energy costs and address concerns about power grid reliability.

The Obama administration previously predicted the emissions limits will cost up to $8.8 billion annually by 2030, although it said those costs would be far outweighed by health savings from fewer asthma attacks and other benefits. The actual price won’t be clear until states decide how they’ll reach their targets.

America’s largest source of greenhouse gases, power plants account for roughly one-third of all U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. Obama’s rule assigns customized targets to each state, then leaves it up to the state to determine how to meet them.

In the works for years, the power plant rule forms the cornerstone of Obama’s plan to curb U.S. emissions and keep global temperatures from climbing, and its success is pivotal to the legacy Obama hopes to leave on climate change. Never before has the U.S. sought to restrict carbon dioxide from existing power plants.

By clamping down on power plant emissions, Obama is also working to increase his leverage and credibility with other nations whose commitments he’s seeking for a global climate treaty to be finalized later this year in Paris. As its contribution to that treaty, the U.S. has pledged to cut overall emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005.

Even before the rule was finalized, more than a dozen states announced plans to fight it. At the urging of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, some Republican governors have declared they simply won’t comply, setting up a certain confrontation with the Environmental Protection Agency, which by law can force its own plan on states that fail to submit implementation plans.

Yet even in many of those states, power companies and local utility authorities have started preparing to meet the targets. New, more efficient plants that are replacing older and dirtier ones have already pushed emissions down nearly 13 percent since 2005, putting them about halfway to meeting Obama’s goal.

In Congress, lawmakers have sought to use legislation to stop Obama’s regulation. McConnell has also tried previously to use an obscure, rarely successful maneuver to allow Congress to vote it down.

The more serious threat to Obama’s rule will likely come in the courts. The Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, which represents energy companies, said 20 to 30 states were poised to join with industry in suing over the rule. The Obama administration has a mixed track record in fending off legal challenges to its climate rules.

Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Obama Pursuing Climate Accord in Lieu of Treaty

27 Aug

 

 

 
A coal-fired power plant in Kentucky. Coal-heavy states could be economic losers in any climate-change protocol that targets such plants, which are among the largest greenhouse gas emitters. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.

In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. 

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“If you want a deal that includes all the major emitters, including the U.S., you cannot realistically pursue a legally binding treaty at this time,” said Paul Bledsoe, a top climate change official in the Clinton administration who works closely with the Obama White House on international climate change policy.

Lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill say there is no chance that the currently gridlocked Senate will ratify a climate change treaty in the near future, especially in a political environment where many Republican lawmakers remain skeptical of the established science of human-caused global warming.

“There’s a strong understanding of the difficulties of the U.S. situation, and a willingness to work with the U.S. to get out of this impasse,” said Laurence Tubiana, the French ambassador for climate change to the United Nations. “There is an implicit understanding that this not require ratification by the Senate.”

American negotiators are instead homing in on a hybrid agreement — a proposal to blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification.

Countries would be legally required to enact domestic climate change policies — but would voluntarily pledge to specific levels of emissions cuts and to channel money to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change. Countries might then be legally obligated to report their progress toward meeting those pledges at meetings held to identify those nations that did not meet their cuts.

“There’s some legal and political magic to this,” said Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold” in the Senate.

The strategy comes as scientists warn that the earth is already experiencing the first signs of human-caused global warming — more severe drought and stronger wildfires, rising sea levels and more devastating storms — and the United Nations heads toward what many say is the body’s last chance to avert more catastrophic results in the coming century.

At the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month, delegates will gather at a sideline meeting on climate change to try to make progress toward the deal next year in Paris. A December meeting is planned in Lima, Peru, to draft the agreement.

In seeking to go around Congress to push his international climate change agenda, Mr. Obama is echoing his domestic climate strategy. In June, he bypassed Congress and used his executive authority to order a far-reaching regulation forcing American coal-fired power plants to curb their carbon emissions. That regulation, which would not be final until next year, already faces legal challenges, including a lawsuit filed on behalf of a dozen states.

But unilateral action by the world’s largest economy will not be enough to curb the rise of carbon pollution across the globe. That will be possible only if the world’s largest economies, including India and China, agree to enact similar cuts.

The Obama administration’s international climate strategy is likely to infuriate Republican lawmakers who already say the president is abusing his executive authority by pushing through major policies without congressional approval.

“Unfortunately, this would be just another of many examples of the Obama administration’s tendency to abide by laws that it likes and to disregard laws it doesn’t like — and to ignore the elected representatives of the people when they don’t agree,” Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, said in a statement.

A deal that would not need to be ratified by the United States or any other nation is also drawing fire from the world’s poorest countries. In African and low-lying island nations — places that scientists say are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change — officials fear that any agreement made outside the structure of a traditional United Nations treaty will not bind rich countries to spend billions of dollars to help developing nations deal with the forces of climate change.

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Poor countries look to rich countries to help build dams and levees to guard against coastal flooding from rising seas levels, or to provide food aid during pervasive droughts.

“Without an international agreement that binds us, it’s impossible for us to address the threats of climate change,” said Richard Muyungi, a climate negotiator for Tanzania. “We are not as capable as the U.S. of facing this problem, and historically we don’t have as much responsibility. What we need is just one thing: Let the U.S. ratify the agreement. If they ratify the agreement, it will trigger action across the world.”

Observers of United Nations climate negotiations, which have gone on for more than two decades without achieving a global deal to legally bind the world’s biggest polluters to carbon cuts, say that if written carefully such an agreement could be a creative and pragmatic way to at least level off the world’s rapidly rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

About a dozen countries are responsible for nearly 70 percent of the world’s carbon pollution, chiefly from cars and coal-fired power plants.

At a 2009 climate meeting in Copenhagen, world leaders tried but failed to forge a new legally binding treaty to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Instead, they agreed only to a series of voluntary pledges to cut carbon emissions through 2020.

The Obama administration’s climate change negotiators are desperate to avoid repeating the failure of Kyoto, the United Nations’ first effort at a legally binding global climate change treaty. Nations around the world signed on to the deal, which would have required the world’s richest economies to cut their carbon emissions, but the Senate refused to ratify the treaty, ensuring that the world’s largest historic carbon polluter was not bound by the agreement.

Seventeen years later, the Senate obstacle remains. Even though Democrats currently control the chamber, the Senate has been unable to reach agreement to ratify relatively noncontroversial United Nations treaties. In 2012, for example, Republican senators blocked ratification of a United Nations treaty on equal rights for the disabled, even though the treaty was modeled after an American law and had been negotiated by a Republican president, George W. Bush.

This fall, Senate Republicans are poised to pick up more seats, and possibly to retake control of the chamber. Mr. McConnell, who has been one of the fiercest opponents of Mr. Obama’s climate change policy, comes from a coal-heavy state that could be an economic loser in any climate-change protocol that targets coal-fired power plants, the world’s largest source of carbon pollution.

Mark Caserta: Leadership can make the US strong again

10 Apr

soldier

Apr. 10, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Liberals are strikingly one-dimensional in their thinking about how other nations perceive America’s strength.

There are many ways the U.S. can become stronger domestically and internationally, non-militarily.

Progressives fail to understand that perception is reality in foreign affairs, and that “reality” can be the premise from which wars begin.

There is no doubt in the world theater that the United States is a dominating military power capable of monumental destruction. But, understand it isn’t what the U.S. is capable of doing that dictates the actions of world leaders; it’s what other countries perceive our government is “willing” to do that bridles international activity.

Given the potential impact of the United States on various international fronts, every nation of consequence is constantly monitoring the most current level of fortitude and “forthrightness” displayed by our leadership. And for liberals not to incorporate this reality into our political cogitation is extremely reckless and naïve.

Currently, the United States has been accurately assessed by friend and foe as being passive, indecisive, appeasing and less than deliberate in protecting its distinction as the beacon of democracy for the world.

Words without a disposition of determination are meaningless and, indeed, harmful to the safety of a nation. When the president of the United States openly draws a “red line” as Obama did for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons and then fails to keep his word, the entire world takes note.

And this administration is clueless in the rudimentary technique of negotiating from a position of strength — not good intentions. They seemingly have no concept of the conservative principle that the best military is one you “never have to use.”

Of the many U.S. contingencies assessed by foreign countries, beyond the plausibility of our leadership, are our assets and resources required to engage and sustain actions militarily or by sanction if necessary. Wars begin over land determined strategically important not only for military viability but also based on its available energy resources.

International perception of America’s strength has not only been compromised by inept leadership, but also by other nation’s discernment of America’s willingness to forego energy independence simply to protect the liberal ideology of man-made climate change.

America should immediately pursue an “all of the above” energy strategy rather than an “anything but fossil fuels” approach. The Keystone Pipeline is a no-brainer. Progressives have placed our nation on an unlevel energy playing field based upon a liberal ideology to which other nations are unwilling to conform.

Other strengthening measures must include tearing down the wall of government overreach preventing entrepreneurs from building businesses, hiring people and turning a profit.

This administration must also eliminate its divide-and-conquer class-warfare strategy and pursue policies that unite — not divide — Americans.

Obamacare must be repealed and replaced so America can begin to repair its healthcare system and economy.

And finally, our country needs a commander-in-chief who will patriotically work to protect the sovereignty of the United States and defend democracy.

America can become strong once again. All we need is leadership.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

OBAMA WANTS TO DESTROY THE COAL INDUSTRY – NO SURPRISE HERE

22 Feb

coalhttp://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/02/22/obama-administration-moves-forward-on-climate-change-without-congress

….and destroy families like these..

Image

So much for global warming…

15 Jan

So much for global warming...

Snow on palm trees in Jerusalem on Jan 12, 2013

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