For decades, U.S. climate change policy amounted to a hypocrisy associated with bad parenting: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
That began to change Monday when President Barack Obama’s administration announced its boldest step yet to reduce the nation’s biggest source of pollution blamed for global warming — carbon emission from power plants.
A proposed new Environmental Protection Agency rule would reduce such emissions 30% by 2030, compared to the levels in 2005.
The move announced by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was intended to show the world that the United States would walk the climate change talk, and establish Obama’s environmental legacy as he enters the final third of his presidency.
“For the sake of our families’ health and our kids’ future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate,” McCarthy said. “When we do, we’ll turn risks on climate into business opportunity. We’ll spur innovation and investment, and we’ll build a world-leading clean energy economy.”
Obama later made a similar case in a conference call with the American Lung Association, noting that power plant pollution contributes to asthma and other diseases suffered by American kids, especially black and Latino youngsters.
“This beautiful blue ball in space”
“This is something that is important for all of us,” he said, urging support for efforts to work together to help protect “this beautiful blue ball in the middle of space there we’re a part of.”
The announcement, expected for months, prompted immediate protests from the energy industry, Republicans and some Democrats from coal and oil states who complained the proposed EPA rules would harm the economy and raise energy prices.
“All the major legislative and regulatory proposals to combat global warming kill jobs and disproportionately hurt lower income people and minorities,” the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research argued in a list of “top 10 reasons Washington should not impose new global warming laws or regulations.”
Nonsense, Obama shot back, noting how similar warnings always greeted major environmental progress in the past, but eventually proved untrue.
“What we’ve seen every time is that these claims are debunked when you actually give workers and business the tools and incentive they need to innovate,” he said, citing previous government moves against air pollution and acid rain.
Carbon pollution that increased dramatically since the industrial revolution of the 19th century corresponds to the warming of the global climate, and scientists predict rising oceans, volatile weather patterns, changing agriculture zones and other impacts in coming decades that will affect everyone on the planet and require an increasing percentage of national budgets to prevent catastrophic results.
SOURCE: Tom Cohen, Josh Levs, Kevin Bohn, and Erin McPike