President Obama laid out his new Climate Action Plan in a speech at Georgetown University yesterday, and as expected, he directed the Environmental Protection Agency to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholders to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants. Also as expected, partisan groups issued statements applauding or bashing the plan, depending on their side of the aisle.
One aspect of the plan that was unexpected: It includes planning for the affects of global warming, such as flooding and other severe weather.
Major points in the plan are:
- Makes up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies;
- Directs the Department of the Interior to permit enough renewables projects – like wind and solar – on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes; designates the first-ever hydropower project for priority permitting; and sets a new goal to install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020; while maintaining the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations;
- Expands the President’s Better Building Challenge, focusing on helping commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings cut waste and become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020;
- Sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the US energy sector – through efficiency standards set over the course of the Administration for appliances and federal buildings;
- Commits to partnering with industry and stakeholders to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles; and
- Leverages new opportunities to reduce pollution of highly-potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons; directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy; and commits to protect our forests and critical landscapes.
In addition to the carbon reduction measures, the Climate Change Plan also lays out some steps to prepare for the impacts of climate change:
- Directs agencies to support local climate-resilient investment by removing barriers or counterproductive policies and modernizing programs; and establishes a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the Federal government can take to help strengthen communities on the ground;
- Pilots innovative strategies in the Hurricane Sandy-affected region to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts; and building on a new, consistent flood risk reduction standard established for the Sandy-affected region, agencies will update flood-risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects;
- Launches an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals in the face of climate change through a public-private partnership with the healthcare industry;
- Maintains agricultural productivity by delivering tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and landowners; and helps communities prepare for drought and wildfire by launching a National Drought Resilience Partnership and by expanding and prioritizing forest- and rangeland- restoration efforts to make areas less vulnerable to catastrophic fire; and
- Provides climate preparedness tools and information needed by state, local, and private-sector leaders through a centralized “toolkit” and a new Climate Data Initiative.