Obama's Climate Action Plan Will Protect Our Health and Our Communities

President Obama has announced a robust plan for tackling climate change and reducing dangerous carbon pollution. This marks an historic turning point. No longer will power plants be allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon into our atmosphere, threatening our health and environment. Instead, we can clean up our skies and leave future generations with a more stable climate.

Without this kind of presidential leadership, our children and grandchildren would be left to cope with the devastating consequences of unchecked climate change. We can’t pass this burden on to them, especially when we can already see what climate disruption can do to people’s lives. From the Colorado residents who lost their homes in recent fires to the children who suffer more asthma attacks because of dirtier air, Americans are reeling from climate impacts right now.

President Obama’s plan will help us turn the tide. It will make a profound and lasting difference in America’s fight against climate change.

Most significantly the plan will reduce carbon pollution from power plants—the largest source of global warming emissions in the country. America has set limits for arsenic, lead, and mercury, but we let power plants release as much carbon pollution as they want even though it has serious implications for our health. Several states have stepped in and required power plants to cut carbon. Now it’s time for the Environmental Protection Agency to close this loophole and reduce this climate threat.

Setting carbon limits is something the EPA can do right now. It already has the authority—and the duty—under the Clean Air Act to create carbon standards for power plants. The agency can give states the flexibility to figure how to meet those standards. NRDC’s experts outlined a similar approach, and we concluded it can cut carbon pollution 26 percent by 2020 and save people money on electricity bills. This represents real and far-reaching carbon reductions. 

President Obama said today he will issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the EPA to set carbon standards for power plants. This gives the agency clear marching orders. The president used a similar approach when he called on the EPA and the Department of Transportation to raise fuel economy, and they delivered historic clean car standards. Now we know power plant carbon standards have the full weight of the presidency behind them as well.

The president declared that he would not approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline unless the State Department could prove the pipeline would not significantly increase global warming pollution. Since the evidence clearly shows that the pipeline would indeed contribute to climate change, the president has taken a one giant step closer to rejecting this dangerous project.

He also called for reducing other major global warming pollutants such as methane and hydrofluorocarbons. But even as we reduce emissions from fossil fuels, America must also expand our clean energy resources. President Obama’s plan singles out the enormous potential of efficiency to lower costs and reduce pollution. The plan will not only expand efficiency measures, but also sets firm and ambitious targets for reducing carbon pollution through efficiency standards.

These standards have been proven highly effective. A recent set of updated efficiency standards for refrigerators, dishwashers and other products alone will save consumers nearly $80 billion on energy bills and reduce carbon pollution by 100 million metric tons a year by 2035. That’s roughly equivalent to emissions from 25 coal-fired power plants.

Expanding wind and solar power also generates economic growth. Already America doubled the amount of wind power we use in three years and quintupled our solar resources in the last four years. Clean energy companies are creating tens of thousands of jobs in towns and cities across the country. President Obama’s climate plan will spread these opportunities to even more communities. NRDC applauds the president’s target of doubling renewable energy generation on public lands, especially since the administration’s program to drive utility solar development in carefully identified “energy zones” has been such a success.

The details of the president’s policies will be worked out in the days and months ahead. NRDC will be engaged every step of the way to keep the plan on track and make sure it isn't derailed by polluting industries or ideological opponents. We are fully committed to helping the president confront climate change.

We can’t end climate change overnight, but by taking the steps laid out in the president’s plan, we can help protect our families and shield our economy from more extreme weather. The president deserves our gratitude and backing as he moves to tackle the defining issue of our time. Click here to urge your senators to support the president in taking decisive climate action.