What will Obama propose in climate speech?
On Saturday, President Obama tweeted a video announcing he'll be giving a major speech on climate change tomorrow, Tuesday, June 25 at 1:35 pm EDT. Speculation is high regarding what policies Obama will propose. Below are some reactions to the news.
Here's the video:
Last week, when White House officials floated the story that new power plant standards would soon be proposed, John Broder at The New York Times explained why it is important for Obama to act fast:
The president is preparing to move soon because rules as complex as those applying to power plants can take years to complete. Experts say that if Mr. Obama hopes to have a new set of greenhouse gas standards for utilities in place before he leaves office he needs to begin before the end of this year.
Andrew Restuccia at Politico lists some of the policies Obama may propose:
The president is expected to set a new goal for expanding renewable energy on public land, a move that would build on the nearly 60 percent increase in renewable electricity produced from wind, solar and geothermal sources from 2008 to 2012.
Any new green power goals would build on Obama’s earlier target of installing 10 gigawatts of renewable energy projects on public land by the end of 2012 — which the Interior Department met ahead of schedule.
Juliet Eilperin reports that:
Obama will couch the effort not only in terms of the nation’s domestic priorities, but as a way to meet the administration’s international pledge to reduce the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels.
Joe Romm and Ryan Koronowski at Climate Progress call this inadequate:
A serious plan to achieve the 17 percent cut is considered by many to be the sine qua non for successful U.S. engagement in international climate talks — although it is inadequate from the perspective of what climate science says is required to stay on the 2°C (3.6°F) warming path.
In another post, Juliet Eilperin notes the scale of impact regulating existing power plants can have:
According to the Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade group, there are 1,142 coal-fired utilities in the United States and 3,967 natural-gas-fired plants, all of which would face new carbon limits under Obama’s proposal. Last year they accounted for nearly 68 percent of all electricity production, according to EEI, compared with nuclear and hydropower utilities, which made up 19 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively. All renewables combined amounted to 5.4percent of electricity generation in 2012.
Brad Plumer at Wonkblog explains why the details of enforcement matter:
If Obama wanted to be aggressive, the EPA could adopt something like the Natural Resources Defense Council proposal to cut power-plant emissions 40 percent by 2020. That would certainly get the United States close to its near-term climate targets.
But there are downsides. This plan — which would let states take creative approaches to cut emissions — could also prove legally risky. And it might encounter sharp resistance from industry groups and even state governors.
Steve Holland predicts what else may be discussed:
Other steps he could announce include an expansion of energy efficiency standards for appliances and accelerate clean energy development on public lands. Another move could be to raise onshore oil and gas royalties, which was suggested by the administration earlier this year.
Andrew Revkin remembers the slow progress of controlling greenhouse gas emissions:
If it seems like this effort to constrain greenhouse gases is happening at the pace of one of the videos produced by the “Slo Mo Guys,” that’s not an illusion. It began with George W. Bush’s first campaign for the White House in 2000. (His effort ended a few months later.) There’s more on the challenges to presidents in pushing ahead with greenhouse gas restrictions in my 2008 post, “The Presidency and the Climate Challenge.”
Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones notes one way Republicans can still hinder Obama's plan:
It is worth noting that the EPA would play a major role in a lot of these actions, but still doesn't have a new administrator confirmed because Republicans have been holding up the nomination of Gina McCarthy. As the assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation in Obama's first term, McCarthy was behind many of the tough new emission standards, which is exactly why Republicans have blocked her confirmation.
Rachel Maddow had a good segment on the recent Alberta, Canada oil spill, the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline and how these issues impact Obama's plan for addressing climate change:
Regarding how this plan may affect the decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, Diane Sweet still thinks it will be rejected:
It would be stupid to initiate all these plans to reduce carbon dioxide pollution only to backtrack by approving something that will wipe out all of those efforts. And I certainly don't believe Obama to be a stupid man.
It's awfully good to see the president starting to move forward on climate action--after the hottest year in American history, it's appropriate that the White House would move to act. And the solutions agenda they've begun to advance moves the country in a sane direction.
“Today's announcement also makes me think it's more likely the White House will reject the Keystone Pipeline, which is the biggest environmental battle in a generation--the president is a logical man, and taking two steps forward only to take two back would make no sense.
“The world desperately needs climate leadership, and today Barack Obama showed he might turn out to be the guy who provided it.
I'll be posting more reactions and will do a report after the speech tomorrow afternoon.