Friday 20 April 2018

Industries vow to resist Obama's new climate change plan

President Obama
President Obama
FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. President Barack Obama on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, will unveil the final version of his unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The Obama administration first proposed the rule last year. Opponents plan to sue immediately to stop the rule's implementation. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

Peter Foster in Washington

The morning after President Barack Obama launched America's most ambitious-ever attempt to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, reaction in the US was mixed.

Mr Obama introduced new curbs on coal-fired power stations in the teeth of fierce opposition from industry and Republicans.

With one eye clearly on his own political legacy, he said he was committing America to leading the world on climate change "because I believe there is such a thing as being too late".

"This is one of those rare issues, because of its magnitude, because of its scope, that if we don't get it right we may not be able to reverse. And we may not be able to adapt sufficiently. There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change.

"I am here to say that if we want to protect our economy, our security, and our children's health, we're going to have to do more. The science tells us we have to do more," he said.

However, many Republicans and affected industry groups have denounced the plan as a job-killer that will raise energy bills disproportionately for some sections of the rural poor who live in states that rely heavily on coal-fired power stations.

The National Mining Association has said it would seek to block the plan in federal court, while the Republican leadership has urged state governors to defy the federal Environmental Protection Agency by refusing to submit compliance plans for the scheme.

Plans for how states will comply are technically due next year, but there's no penalty to asking for a two-year extension, leaving the door open to foot-dragging from states that wish to resist the new targets.

The targets are also likely to become a political football in the next general election campaign since the next occupant of the White House will be responsible for enforcing the new rules.

The new targets in the Clean Power Plan demand carbon emissions from the power sector be slashed 32pc from 2005 levels by 2030 - that is 2pc more than in the original proposal that was released for consultation a year ago.

In the coming months, Mr Obama is expected to work hard to convince the US public to support the scheme, announcing a visit to the Alaskan Arctic to highlight the impact of climate change and hosting Pope Francis at the White House in September to make an impassioned and collective call for action. Agreeing with the Pope's statement that the world had a "moral obligation" to act on climate change, Mr Obama became emotional as he pressed his case.

"I don't want my grandkids not to be able to swim in Hawaii or not to be able to climb a mountain and see a glacier because we didn't do something about it," he said, his voice cracking audibly. "I don't want millions of people's lives disrupted and this world more dangerous because we didn't do something about it. That would be shameful of us."

Although some Democrats oppose the scheme on economic grounds, the majority of the opposition to climate change mitigation is on the Republican side, with many candidates refusing even to acknowledge the existence of man-made climate change.

Even those that do, like Jeb Bush, one of the front-runners for the Republican nomination, have come out against the targets saying that they "will throw countless people out of work, and increases everyone's energy prices".

Hillary Clinton, the Democrat front-runner, has come out firmly in support and pledged to implement the plan in full if she is the next president.(© Daily Telegraph London)

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