On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will make a speech at Georgetown University that will “lay out my vision for where I believe we need to go — a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it.” The speech is highly anticipated by both parties and by environmental groups, who are eager to learn which exact measures the president will finally push forward.
Here are five proposals that could anchor the president’s address.
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Finalize New Regulations for Future Power Plants
EPA regulations drafted over a year ago — which would drastically curb carbon emissions coming from new coal-fired power plants –crashed and burned last April, and have made no progress since. President Barack Obama seems intent on finalizing these regulations, however, and, during his speech in Berlin last Wednesday, reaffirmed, “Our dangerous carbon emissions have come down, but we know we have to do more. And we will do more.”
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Impose Greenhouse Gas Limits on Existing Power Plants
In addition to regulating new power plants, President Obama plans to impose regulations on carbon emissions from already existing power plants, which currently account for a third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and 40 percent of its carbon emissions. Just the thought of new, strict limitations imposed on existing power plants has coal industries and many Republicans gearing up for battle.
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Expand Production of Renewable Energy on Public Land
The Obama administration has already prioritized solar, wind and geothermal potential, and has supported its production on 650 million acres of federal government-owned land. During Tuesday’s speech, the president is expected to announce a wider variety of initiatives aligned with renewable energy potential as part of his plan to “devise new sources of energy.”
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Create Stricter Efficiency Standards for Appliances and Homes
Since 2009, the Department of Energy has created tight efficiency standards on various household appliances (most notably, refrigerators). But, for over a year, four appliance standards have been sitting at the White House Office of Management and Budget waiting for approval. This Tuesday, however, President Obama is expected to issue an executive order – similar to the one he issued in 2009, requiring agencies to set goals for greenhouse gas emissions reduction – that would finalize these stricter standards, and extend them to a greater number of appliances.
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With the Senate refusing to vote on Gina McCarthy, the president’s nominee to head the EPA, affecting how much the EPA can actually get done, Obama is expected to use Tuesday to call on the Senate to act on and approve the nomination. Some also expect Tuesday will serve as the president’s message that he will move forward with climate change measures “regardless of Republican obstruction,” as put by Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters.
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