White House releases Clean Power Plan: power plants targeted

Today marks a big day for the US's environmental progression, with President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator Gina McCarthy jointly releasing a final Clean Power Plan — the first in the Obama administration's efforts to reduce the nation's pollution levels and tackle the issue of climate change. The White House said in a statement this morning, "We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that's not polluted or damaged ... Taking action now is critical."

This is the latest step in the Obama Administration's actions against climate change, something that has — though there's still a lot of progress to be made — progressed quite nicely over recent years. The White House calls this a "common-sense proposal", one it promises will have "huge benefits" for Americans and the world alike.

Power plants received a big focus in the proposal, something that isn't surprising given past crack downs on power plant pollution and the fact they're the single biggest source of carbon pollution in the US. Under this plan, the US will reduce the emissions from power plants by about 32-percent in the next 15 years. Solar and wind power and similar renewable energy sources will replace them — something that, combined, is spurring critics to claim the proposal is the nation's own "war on coal".

The administration is also seeking things like an average fuel efficiency of 54.5MPG in vehicles by 2025, having the government get at least 20-percent of its electricity from renewable methods by 2020, and more.

For the first time ever, the EPA has set national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The White House took the offense and warned that "some people" may spread "misinformation and launch false attacks", and that there will be cynics saying it isn't possible to be successful and critics who disagree with how things are done. The White House goes on to state that before the plan's details were finalized, "special interests and their allies" were already working on their opposition.

That's a point the White House goes to great lengths to drive home, saying that the same sort of troubles were experienced "in 1990, when the United States tackled acid rain", and again in "the 1970s, when the Clean Air Act was passed." As part of this, the administration assembled a "Myths and Facts" writeup detailing anticipated and existing criticism of the proposal and its responses to them.

In a statement, President Obama said:

We can choose to believe that superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it's too late.