Four Ways To Give The U.S. A 'Clean Slate'
Clean Slate, Image credit:Ritual & Repetition, M. Sherwin.
Around here at the Sierra Club, we are very excited for Obama's Inauguration. We know he has great plans for our country's economic and energy futures and we're ready to help him repower, refuel and rebuild America.
During these troubled economic times, we have identified four key actions the President-elect can make on day one of his administration-- independently of Congress-- that will enable America to start 2009 with a 'clean slate' of energy policies.1- Direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant the waiver that will allow California and 17 states to limit global warming pollution from cars.
California has long been a leader in setting tough vehicle emissions standards, including setting the first standards to reduce tailpipe emissions of CO2 by 30% by 2016. Seventeen states have followed California's lead by adopting these stricter-than-federal standards. In 2008, the Bush Administration denied California the necessary waiver to implement these standards, blocking all 18 states from moving forward. With 18 states waiting to implement these vehicle emissions standards (and other states in the process of adopting them), California's "Pavley" standards could become the national standard as the industry finds it easier to meet one stringent standard nationwide.
2- End the rush to build new coal plants by directing his EPA to require all new and existing power plants limit their global warming emissions.
There are approximately 100 proposed coal plants in state permitting proceedings around the country. These plants, if permitted and constructed, would emit more than 480 million tons of CO2 annually and would make it impossible for the incoming Administration to achieve meaningful CO2 reductions. There are currently 500 coal-fired power plants in the U.S., which are responsible for 2 billion tons of CO2 annually, making them the nation's single largest source of global warming pollution
3- Restore America's international leadership in the fight to end global warming by publicly committing the U.S. to cut its CO2 emissions by at least 35% by 2020.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international scientific authority on global warming, has estimated that to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, developed nations must reduce their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 (this is equal to 35% below 2005 for the U.S.). The goal would be achieved through a cap on carbon emissions and additional efforts to reduce emissions at home and abroad. International efforts would include programs to end tropical deforestation, assist in sustainable development and help the world's least developed countries adapt to the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided.
4- Direct the EPA to end mountaintop removal coal mining by stopping coal companies from dumping rock and waste into valleys and streams.
On the campaign trail, President-elect Obama pledged to address the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. Obama can fulfill that commitment by restoring the original definition of 'fill material' under the Clean Water Act, which was weakened by the Bush Administration in 2002 in order to make it easier for coal companies to dump rock and debris into valleys, burying streams.
To date, coal companies in Appalachia have blown up 475 mountains and buried over 1,500 miles of streams with mountaintop removal coal mining. This coal provides approximately 4% of our nation's electricity, a small percentage that could easily be supplied by conservation, efficiency, and clean energy.
It's that quick and simple - four things. And of course, you can help us tell Obama to take these steps - simply sign our Clean Slate petition!