The change we've been waiting for
Before the landmark gay rights rulings from the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama on June 27 announced his administration's next steps for building a legacy of action to fight the climate crisis. The plan includes new energy efficiency standards for federal buildings and appliances, scales up responsible clean energy production on public lands with an ambitious new commitment to power 6 million homes by 2020, and uses the full authority of the Clean Air Act to cut dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune writes on his Coming Clean blog that the president's announcement is a game changer.
"First, he said that he will use the full authority of the Clean Air Act to limit air pollution from new and existing power plants. Second, he declared that he will not approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it harms the climate, because to do so would not be in the national interest. The science on Keystone's potentially catastrophic effect on climate could not be more clear. The rejection of this carbon pollution pipeline will be a major climate disaster averted.
"Coal-fired power plants, however, are a disaster that has persisted for far too long and, as I listened to the president's speech, I shared the exuberance of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal activists and so many others in the movement who have fought to end this injustice. Coal-fired power plants are currently responsible for nearly one-third of U.S. carbon pollution; although only a decade ago, that share was greater than one-half. The recent and welcome decline in U.S. carbon emissions to 1986 levels is the result of a decade-long trend away from using coal to generate electricity. Extending clean-air standards to older coal plants, many of which have been polluting for decades, will speed that trend. Not only will this significantly reduce our carbon pollution, but it will also save tens of thousands of lives, since the plants emit many other toxic air pollutants, from sulfur dioxide to mercury.
"To meet the challenge of the climate crisis, however, we must do much more than simply celebrate the end of the Coal Age -- we need to hasten a new era of smart, clean energy, energy efficiency, and the jobs that support them. Here, too, the president's plan lays out a practical vision for the future. The president is justifiably proud that generation of renewable energy from wind and solar doubled during his first term; now he has committed to seeing it double again. One of the ways his administration will make that happen is by responsibly siting more renewable-energy projects on public lands. The goal is to install enough such projects to power 6 million homes by 2020."
The Club wants to remind the president that Americans support his move and that there's a groundswell of support for bold climate plans. Send a climate change message here on behalf of the Club and make your voice heard.