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Published On: Wed, Jun 18th, 2014

The proposed US new climate change regime

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ObamaEnvironment Watch by Ambrose Inusa Sule, mnes | 0703-441-4410 (sms only)

The issue of Climate Change took a new turn recently, when the US President Barrack Obama announced his readiness to tackle the issue of climate change head-on, a country that has refused to sign most of the international treaties on carbon emissions reduction.

There has been much praise for the step from many environmentalists, who believe that it will really invigorate the moribund international climate negotiating process. They argue that countries like India and China will now have to react to this concrete step from the US.

The United States is one of the highest carbon emissions countries that contribute to global warming, so cutting carbon emissions by any amount means protecting our health and protecting our homes.

The new regulation to clean the air is for coal-burning power plants, aimed at dramatically cutting emissions that contribute to global warming. The proposals reportedly seek to cut carbon pollution from nearly 1,600 power plants by 30 percent by 2030. China and India are among the nations that have made similar commitments to stem global warming.

Critics are already arguing that the new US rules will cause power plants to close and electricity prices to rise, but Obama said that he is ready, “to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet. American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

In the US coal is still a major factor in energy production, accounting for about 40 percent of electricity.

Though, this new climate change regime still has a long way to go, after the proposals are announced, there will be a year-long consultation, followed by another 12 months in which states will have to submit their plans for review.

Despite these delays, international observers believe the new proposals will help re-establish the credibility of the US on the international stage.

Mr. Obama’s new plan to fight climate change depends heavily on states’ devising individual approaches to meeting goals set in the nation’s capital, a strategy similar to the one he used to expand health care, often with rocky results.

Rather than imposing a uniform standard for reducing power plant carbon emissions, the regulation unveiled recently, offers the states flexibility to pick from a menu of policy options. But as with health care, the policy could lead to a patchwork of rules that frustrate businesses and invite resistance from states that oppose the policy.

The proposed plan which is intended to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, represented Mr. Obama’s boldest step in using his executive authority to halt the warming of the planet, an issue he vowed to address during his first presidential campaign six years ago.

The proposal is chiefly aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

It assigns each state a separate pollution reduction target, but gives each wide leeway in tailoring its plan. The idea is to allow states to design plans that best fit regional economies and mixes of energy sources.

In order to comply with the new national rule, states can, among other actions, shut down coal plants, install wind and solar power and energy-efficiency technology.

It is expected that a number of states are expected to sue. Obama already knows that there will serious opposition to his proposed new climate change regime when he said that, “I promise you, you will hear from critics who say the same thing they always say — that these guidelines will kill jobs or crush the economy,” at a conference called by environmentalists.

He promised that, “I’d much rather pay a little more money in heating and electrical costs to prevent problems rather than spending huge amounts of money to clean up the mess afterwards”.

The regulation, which must go through a public comment period before taking effect, will certainly be challenged in the courts and in Congress, but observers believe that Mr. Obama has past judicial rulings to cite in his defense and enough votes on Capitol Hill that would allow him to veto any opposing legislation and make it stick. Tisemen It is certainly going to be a long drawn battle. If the regulation survives the lobbyists and lawyers intact, the battles will move to state capitals as businesses, environmentalists and lawmakers joust in 50 separate arenas over the scope of the resulting rules.

Just as some states balked at devising ways of carrying out Mr. Obama’s health care program, forcing the federal government to step in many cases, some governors are signaling that they will resist the new restrictions on power plants.

With this brave decision by Mr. Obama, environmentalism has finally found a strong voice in the United States.

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