On Tuesday, President Obama described his administration's plans for addressing climate change in a speech at Georgetown University. "The question is not whether we need to act," said the President. "The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late." Not surprisingly, the centerpiece of his climate change proposal is reducing carbon dioxide missions from power plants. Under its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, the EPA has been collecting emissions data since 2010. In his speech, Obama challenged EPA to develop carbon dioxide emission standards for existing coal and gas-fired plants by 2015. EPA is then expected to require emissions reductions under its GHG Tailoring Rule, which subjects greenhouse gases (GHG) to permitting under the Clean Air Act. The Tailoring Rule has been in effect since the start of 2011, but EPA has not -- up to this point -- required significant reductions in GHG emissions through permitting.
Republicans were quick to label the President's speech as a declaration of war on coal. Although this type of political rhetoric is expected, it will be interesting to see whether Democrats from coal-dependent states attempt to distance themselves from Obama's plan.
Other elements of the President's plan include: increased funding for clean energy technologies, reducing emissions from heavy duty vehicles by raising fuel economy standards and funding research on biofuels, promoting energy efficiency efforts, and helping cities and states prepare for the effects of climate change. The Administration's entire "Action Plan" is outlined on this Whitehouse webpage.