Obama Will Announce Regulation Of CO2 From Existing Power Plants On Tuesday

The White House tweeted on Saturday that Obama’s long-awaited climate speech will come Tuesday afternoon at Georgetown University. The President said in an accompanying video (below):

In my inaugural address, I pledged that America would respond to the growing threat of climate change for the sake of our children and future generations.

This Tuesday, I’ll lay out my vision for where I believe we need to go –- a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it.

The Washington Post reports that, “Obama will couch the effort not only in terms of the nation’s domestic priorities, but as a way to meet the administration’s international pledge to reduce the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels.”

A serious plan to achieve the 17 percent cut is considered by many to be the sine qua non for successful U.S. engagement in international climate talks — although it is inadequate from the perspective of what climate science says is required to stay on the 2°C (3.6°F) warming path.

Analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others, makes clear that attaining the 17 percent cut without further Congressional action will require regulating pollution emissions at existing power plants. Indeed, the EPA “is legally obligated to issue rules regulating CO2 from existing power plants.”

Watch Obama’s video:

Here are Obama’s full remarks:

This is a serious challenge – but it’s one uniquely suited to America’s strengths.

We’ll need scientists to design new fuels, and farmers to grow them.

We’ll need engineers to devise new sources of energy, and businesses to make and sell them.

We’ll need workers to build the foundation for a clean energy economy.

And we’ll need all of us, as citizens, to do our part to preserve God’s creation for future generations – our forests and waterways, our croplands and snowcapped peaks.

There’s no single step that can reverse the effects of climate change. But when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can.

So I hope you’ll share this message with your friends. Because this a challenge that affects everyone – and we all have a stake in solving it together.

I hope to see you Tuesday. Thank you. founder and climate activist Bill McKibben said in response to news about the speech, “The world desperately needs climate leadership, and today Barack Obama showed he might turn out to be the guy who provided it.”

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that the President had been “pushing the team to get very specific about how to achieve the goals he set on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.” He described his general approach in the State of the Union this year, and on Tuesday, Americans will get a more complete picture on what Obama plans to do about “the global threat of our time.”

69 Responses to Obama Will Announce Regulation Of CO2 From Existing Power Plants On Tuesday

  1. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    17% by 2020, four years after he is gone? Priceless!!!

  2. Z S says:

    I’m excited about the prospect of finally pushing the new rule on regulating new power plants, not to mention the (far more important) rule on existing power plants. The supreme court ordered EPA to do this SIX YEARS AGO, so it’s about time.

    Less excited about hearing about how great nuclear power and natural gas are, and reaaaaaaally hoping the word “corn” is not used in the biofuels section.

  3. BobbyL says:

    He should have done this his first term but I am glad he is at least doing it now. Whatever it takes to get an agreement at the international climate talks in 2015 needs to be done. I think he needs our support. If not us, then who?

  4. rollin says:

    I hope his speech contains some real changes and not just more platitudes.

  5. Nuclear, natural gas and corn ethanol. What did you expect? Now that climate change is advancing to the point that the deniers will be laughed off the public stage, the powers that be have to figure out how to cash in on it.

    Any attempts at real solutions, of course, would reduce the returns to the 1%, so they will give us phony boondoggles that don’t actually address the problem but do qualify for federal largesse.

    This ship’s goin’ down.

  6. Lucastro says:

    Totally inadequate. 2005 is not a recognized benchmark. This is just fancy posturing distracting us from the huge challenge tha lies ahead of us, human beings. The Keystone pipeline is the litmus test for this presidency. Yes we scan!

  7. katy says:

    i wondered about this:
    UPDATE 1-Canada’s oil capital to be shut for days after flooding
    Reuters – ‎48 minutes ago‎
    Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:11pm EDT. By Nia Williams. CALGARY, Alberta, June 22 (Reuters) – Southern Alberta braced for more disruption on Saturday from floods that killed at least three people, forced about 100,000 from their homes and blacked out the center of …

  8. Will Fox says:

    17% by 2020 is rather pathetic, to be honest.

    Scotland is aiming for 100% renewables by then.

  9. prokaryotes says:

    The floods followed some 36 hours of unusually heavy rainfall – some communities received six months of their normal rainfall in under two days.

  10. Jeff Huggins says:

    Help Please / Comparable Numbers

    Could ClimateProgress folks with access to the numbers and a clear understanding of what’s necessary help us out here by putting these two aims on an easily-comparable basis, please:

    * reduce GHG emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels (and by when?)

    * “developed countries must reduce their emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if we are to have a medium chance of limiting warming to 2 deg C”

    Can we pick a specific year — say 2020 — and then simply state (for the audience) what GHG emissions would have to be in order to achieve the first aim, and what they would have to be in order to achieve the second aim, and (thus) the difference?

    And, do you folks (Joe and Ryan) agree roughly with the statement in quotes above, that is, about what reduction would be necessary if we are to have a “medium chance of limiting warming to 2 deg C”? (The quote is from the earlier CP post at the link, of course, but I think someone else authored it, so I’m interested to hear what you think, Joe and Ryan.)

    Thanks and Be Well,

    (can’t wait for Tuesday!?)


  11. Joe A says:

    Don’t get too excited. The power companies will go to court and tie this up for years.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Thanks for reminding me to post this video

    Kevin Anderson explains the 2C target…

  13. nahtzo says:

    Yes, he will be gone, plus he really didn’t say anything concrete…usual for Obama…he speaks in hopes and dreams but not in reality.

  14. Bob Geiger says:

    This important and newsworthy headline is not supported at all by the story. What is going on? If you have something that supports the headline, please post it. Otherwise the headline should be changed.

  15. BobbyL says:

    Sorry, but I don’t see Keystone as a litmus test. If Obama comes through with a good speech and follows it up with action and then most importantly, hits a home run at the 2015 international climate meeting that will be good enough for me. Rejecting Keystone would be icing on the cake.

  16. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    I fear it’ll be iceless, and mostly cakeless. I’d be happy if wrong.

  17. Mike Roddy says:

    I’ve learned to just tune Obama out. “New fuels”? What is that supposed to mean? A new recipe for Monsanto grown corn?

    He’ll get my attention when his regulations mandate closing of coal and gas plants in places like Georgia and Indiana, on a five year schedule. Otherwise, it’s just more of the same, piled higher and deeper.

  18. prokaryotes says:

    Wrong topic, oops.

  19. BobbyL says:

    I am afraid this discussion is academic. The world’s countries will not begin implementing their plan (assuming they actually agree to one in 2015) until 2020 so any 2020 target would become meaningless. It seems more likely that they will adopt a 2030 target. I think this is a consequence of the collapsed meeting in Copenhagen in 2009.

  20. We'll see what happens says:

    James Hansen disagrees with you.

  21. Brian Smith says:

    Anyone know who is principally leading his climate policy team and who in the science community he’s relying on in to advise?

  22. Henry says:

    Wrong! There are already rumors out there that these small steps to limit emissions will be the payback for APPROVING Keystone!
    Do you remember the “All of the above” energy speech? Do you really think there was ever any doubt that it was going to be approved?

  23. I want to cheer some positive leadership at last, but I’m afraid you may be right. No mention of the imminent threat of the disappearance of the Arctic ice cap. let alone the dramatic, WW2-style measures that need to be instituted to avoid it (or perhaps now, mitigate it).

    I can’t believe the CIA has not told him that it’s very likely the ice cap will go in five to ten years, and that it will distort the jet stream to the point we have major crop failures globally. The jet stream distortions we see now, e.g., the high temps in Alaska) are a tame harbinger.

  24. BobbyL says:

    Even if Keystone is rejected and that actually prevents the tar sands from being developed (which I think is unlikely given the number of other possible routes) there are certainly enough fossil fuels around to reach 6C. So why should Keystone be a litmus test? Doesn’t make sense to me. Why not use shipping coal to China? Or offshore oil drilling? Or high volume fracking? Where is the logic?

  25. BobbyL says:

    My guess is that Obama will approve Keystone. But that’s a guess. I don’t see the connection between Keystone and these other steps, which together probably cannot be characterized as being small. I think he is focusing on obtaining a global agreement, which is the only way to limit global warming. If that is his goal I think he is on the right path, particularly if he is able to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants. That would be impressive.

  26. Sasparilla says:

    Well, lets see what he says and most importantly what he does. Since the administration fumbled the regulations for the new power plants (remember there was some issue that would tie them up for years?). We should probably take on odds on what the regulations for existing ones will be (fumbled for delay or just not implemented till he’s about to leave office or is out of office).

    Then the other side of my brain says any progress is better than no progress – so we’ll see what he says and does.

    17% by 2020 is a joke compared to what’s needed to prevent serious destructive consequences.

  27. Paul Magnus says:

    I think he knows this. I think many leaders know this.

  28. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Yes we can, go extinct

  29. fj says:

    Not good at all.

    We’ve had our climate Pearl Harbors and see many times worse ones in the immediate future.

    Very bleak indeed.

    There is no political reality.

    Accelerating climate change won’t allow this level of inaction for long, but until the human capital and will can be marshalled to truly confront this thing, the future looms apocalyptic.

  30. fj says:

    We have no collective free will.

    We have no leadership.

  31. fj says:

    No Commander In Chief.

    No nothing.

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Titanic has hit the iceberg, but the Capn, he’s not a’feared. He has plenty of lifeboats for the First Class Passengers, and will say a nice service for the 99% of steerage passengers, before they take his place, and go down with the ship. The band will play ‘The Great Pretender’.

  33. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Love it Rab!: you so succinctly live up to your name. But there probably will be survivors. Down here I know our original people will calmly pick up the pieces and carry on as they have for 1000s of years, ignoring this 200 year hiatus, restoring sanity and essentially starting again with what’s left, ME

  34. BBHY says:

    From the Prez’s remarks, there is way too much focus on creating new technologies, and way, way, too little on deploying existing technologies and techniques to address the problem.

    In Washington-speak, too much “back-loading”. Not a serious plan, just more nice talk.

  35. Spike says:

    Denmark will probably have achieved a 34% reduction by 2020.

  36. John says:

    back loading followed by back sliding, the death of a thousand cuts. much the same as the financial reform of a few years back, a big splashy announcement that is steadily watered down over time. There are actually 3 crises, food, energy and climate whose confluence will overwhelm society. this always leads to war, not the nation-state wars of the past. the War on Humanity.

  37. PeterM says:

    Obama is in the position where he needs to do something to placate the Environmentalists who supported him in 2008 & 2012.

    These proposals will be insufficient however to halt the soaring carbon levels globally. C02 is now rising close to 3ppm a year. The task of really slashing the use of coal for electricity in this country is decades off. This outcome will take place when it becomes all too clear we are facing a catastrophe.

  38. Will Fox says:

    If you want to see a bunch of total and utter imbeciles, just read the comments section of that video –

    I think I should stop now, otherwise I’ll give myself a heart attack/high blood pressure… these deniers make me so angry.

    Sigh :-(

  39. Superman1 says:

    “there is way too much focus on creating new technologies”. Exactly. Because, the only thing he can ‘sell’ relative to climate change is essentially another Space Program; more technology, more research, more jobs, more growth. The only thing he can’t sell is what’s needed; elimination of all non-essential uses of fossil fuel NOW, accompanied by other equally draconian measures.

  40. Superman1 says:

    “This outcome will take place when it becomes all too clear we are facing a catastrophe.” By that time, it will be far too late for any action, given the multi-decadal lag times.

  41. Superman1 says:

    Will, there are two types of deniers; those who deny the science, and those who deny the draconian solutions required if there is to be any chance of avoiding the cliff. Either will drive us over the cliff.

  42. BobbyL says:

    I think we need a whole new view of the situation. It appears inevitable that there will be very serious consequences. It appears the best we can hope for is a strong international agreement that will begin to be implemented in 2020. Therefore, it seems extremely unlikely that we can stay below 2C. Since we are apparently going to surpass 2C at some point we need a new framework for deciding on a goal. Continuing to fight for the goals from ten or more years ago is making less and less sense.

  43. prokaryotes says:

    Maybe like Algae fuel? Centrifuges and water turning(ventilating powered by solar shingles and combined with an electric fuel delivery system could make this process carbon neutral or even negative?

  44. prokaryotes says:

    Well comments in this matter must be considered carefully, it might be that comments are in part “produced” to give the impression of wide resistance. Because we have companies on record to use automated systems to do exactly this.

  45. Will Fox says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me.

  46. We'll see what happens says:

    I don’t see the logic of Obama apologists either.

  47. fj says:

    The draconian measures thing is pure denier myth.

    “Oh you poor dear,” they say, and “you have to pedal all the way home.”

    And how awful it is to peddle mostly on level ground next to the water in the sun and breezes, no traffic, can easily stop for dinner or a drink, chat with friends . . .

    And the “how awful it must be to deal with the cold, snow, and rain,” yes it is . . . same as when I went speedskating, skiing, and sailing, but that was much better since I spent lots of money.

  48. fj says:

    Those zoom zoom commercials in the pristine countryside myth are hysterical compared to driving under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in NYC and straight out of “1984”.

  49. fj says:

    Oh the horrors we will have to endure when we come to our senses!

  50. Sasparilla says:

    His chief Science advisor is John Holdren, who before he fell into the black hole of the administration, knew the score on climate change very well.

    Before he was in the administration I remember hearing a remark of his regarding loosing the ice cap in the arctic…basically it was that once you loose ice cap in the summer the winter ice cap will follow suprisingly quickly (whatever that means), that was all based on simulations I’m sure.

    Not sure about climate policy in particular, but its pretty obvious he has people who know whats going on and has chosen not to follow their warnings.

  51. fj says:

    And, the god-awful stuff I have to eat just to stay healthy.

  52. fj says:

    And, the writhing ball of antisocial anxiety I have become since I stopped smoking . . .

  53. Sasparilla says:

    This is easy BobbyL. Because Obama can stop the expansion of the tar sands, by himself with one decision. Its politically achievable, right now – the others here in the U.S. are not.

    And this won’t keep the tar sands from being exploited (he approved 2 prior tar sands pipelines in 2009 with oil at 5 year price lows) but it will slow it down enough to give us more time (which is the one thing we desperately need) opening more spigots is what we have to avoid whenever possible.

    Any of those other restrictions are pie in the sky dreams at this point – cause they’d have to go through congress and the GOP won’t restrict anything (and its not clear the Dem Senate would either, they blew the cap-n-trade when we could have done that).

  54. Sasparilla says:

    Yeah, I think the new framework should be hard limits on the amount of fossil fuels that can be extracted worldwide keeping the top at 450ppm (from human induced CO2 increases) attacking one industry at a time – coal first, then oil, then gas.

    One way or the other these industries have to be killed and the sooner we start doing that the better off we’ll be down the line.

  55. SecularAnimist says:

    Superman1 wrote: “there are two types of deniers; those who deny the science, and those who deny the draconian solutions required if there is to be any chance of avoiding the cliff”

    fj wrote: “The draconian measures thing is pure denier myth.”

    fj is correct, and in fact, Superman1’s defeatism is the new denial.

    The reality is that we have the means at hand NOW, in the form of efficiency and renewable energy technologies, to drastically reduce GHG emissions much more rapidly, much more easily, and at much lower cost than most people realize.

    We can do so well within the time frame that climate scientists tell us is required to have a good “chance of avoiding the cliff”.

    And we can do so without imposing any “draconian” impacts on anyone — indeed, the transition to renewable energy, organic agriculture and a more efficient, less wasteful built environment will be the driver of sustainable, equitable prosperity and healthier, more human lifestyles for people everywhere.

    The only “draconian” impact will be on the fossil fuel barons, who will see trillions of dollars in wealth shift from their corporations to other sectors of the economy.

    And it is precisely to obstruct and delay that transition that the fossil fuel barons have spent a generation “denying the science” — to keep the public ignorant of the problem.

    And it is precisely for that reason that they engage in dishonest, alarmist fear-mongering about supposed “draconian” impacts from phasing out fossil fuels — to make the public fearful of the solutions.

    And as with all such “memes”, this one gets picked up and endlessly regurgitated, by both shills and cranks. Superman1 has even gone so far as to assert on this blog that if large numbers of people switched from coal-fired to wind-generated electricity and adopted vegan diets, it would cause a “global economic depression”. What nonsense!

    We have the solutions at hand. The costs of implementing them are small, and the benefits, even above and beyond the vital necessity of stopping global warming, are huge. We need to get on with it. The only real obstacle is the entrenched political power and wealth of the fossil fuel corporations — and the public ignorance and fear that they create with their propaganda.

    Reject defeatism as firmly and strongly as you reject denial.

  56. fj says:

    A NYC class advanced net zero transit system capable of moving millions per hour would be a major game change with bikeshare laughably early-stage primitive but still quite effective.

  57. BobbyL says:

    It seems to me that the decision to use Powder River Basin for coal mining to ship vast amounts of coal to China was made by Ken Salazar, former Secretary of the Interior, obviously with the blessings of Obama. I don’t remember Congress having any role in that decision. Congress may in fact have the last word on Keystone. Some members of Congress believe they have the power to take the decision away from Obama. The whole Keystone thing could wind up in the courts to determine who has the authority to make the decision, particularly if the Republicans make gains in the Senate and hold the House in next election.

  58. In the next few decades, humankind will need to double, or even triple energy production as billions of people in the developing world lift themselves out of poverty and begin to live modern lives. Unless the source of this new energy is clean and non-CO2 emitting, the risk of triggering a devastating global climate catastrophe is all but certain. Weaning ourselves away from fossil fuels is going to cause hardship for a lot of people, especially in my state (West Virginia) where coal is so important … but ignoring the problem is going to make things exponentially worse in the long run.

  59. BobbyL says:

    My point is that the 450 ppm goal to stay below 2C is no longer attainable. The earliest that a global agreement will be implemented is 2020 so emissions will at best peak after that which is too late. Maybe 500 ppm remains a longshot. It is no longer 2008 and we are hoping for an agreement to be implemented by 2013. It didn’t happen. We need to readjust to the changed circumstances.

  60. Bob Carver says:

    After you lose the icecap in the summer, the ocean will warm to the point where the winter icecap will be prevented from developing.

  61. BillD says:

    This is a good step. We can only hope that in a few years there is a consensus for much stronger action. Here in Indiana where we get most of our energy from coal even Democrats decry efforts that will increase our electricity costs in the short term. As an Indiana scientist and professor, I will write to Sen Donelly and tell him that I strongly support regulations that will move our state away from fossil fuel electricity much more quickly.

  62. HardlyWorthIt says:

    More Obama propaganda…this is ridiculous. America is the ONLY nation NOT to have responded to what has been proven as a crisis for years, now. All this sudden talk about climate change and doing something about it is to reduce his downward spiral over the leak about citizen surveillance. This is more smoke and mirrors…nothing will get done.

  63. Daniel Ferra says:

    “Let me be provocative for a moment. Do you know how much of a return on your investment you would receive if you installed solar on your home or business right now? Do you know enough to even estimate the amount of money you’d save over 25-30 years? Would you guess that solar energy is actually a financial investment with recent returns more solid than stocks and bonds? Do you know that solar energy works in colder climates and on cloudy days? Did you know that nearly any solar installation company will gladly provide you these numbers for free? Probably not. Not many Americans can begin to answer these questions. And who can blame them?” Terrill Dines

    “The motivation and the goals of Germany’s unprecedented solar policy are neither a secret nor hard to research (EEG 2004, Article 1). For decades, the main problem of solar had been identified as it being too expensive to deploy. But, at the same time, only deployment and mass production would lead to significant cost reductions. To overcome this barrier, the German parliament adapted the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) in 2004 to incentivize the installation of solar PV systems, thus creating the first uncapped mass market for solar power. It was the goal to reduce the technology’s cost through deployment, innovation, and market forces within the solar industry. The plan has succeeded a lot faster than anticipated and the cost of PV is expected to decline by at least another 50% by 2020.” Paul Gipe

    The Feed in Tariff is a policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in Renewable Energy, the California FiT allows eligible customers generators to enter into 10- 15- 20- year contracts with their utility company to sell the electricity produced by renewable energy, and guarantees that anyone who generates electricity from R E source, whether homeowner, small business, or large utility, is able to sell that electricity. It is mandated by the State to produce 33% R E by 2020

    FIT policies can be implemented to support all renewable technologies including:
    Photovoltaics (PV)
    Solar thermal
    Fuel cells
    Tidal and wave power.

    So long as the payment levels are differentiated appropriately, FIT policies can increase development in a number of different technology types over a wide geographic area. At the same time, they can contribute to local job creation and increased clean energy development in a variety of different technology sectors.

    FIT policies are successful around the world, notably in Europe. This suggests that they will continue to grow in importance in the United States, especially as evidence mounts about their effectiveness as framework for promoting renewable energy development and job creation.

    With the worlds carbon levels at 400-410 parts per million and rising, globally emitting over 32 Gigatons of CO2 each year, causing Global Warming and life changing pollution, Renewable Energy will address these issues and start us on the road back to 350 parts per million of carbon, Thank You Bill McKibben

    California law does not allow Homeowners to oversize their Renewable Energy systems

    Allowing homeowners to oversize their Renewable Energy systems, is a true capitalistic tool, that will give us the potential to challenge the utility monopolies, democratize energy generation and transform millions of homes and small business into energy generators, during Sandy, Solar homes where not utilized to their full potential, because there was no disconnect and or transfer switch, to turn off incoming grid and start in home Solar power. how comforting it would be, to have mandatory transfer switches on all residential and small business renewable energy installations.

    We don’t even take into account the tremendous health cost to us and our planet, when we burn oil, coal, and natural gas, which would make them more expensive than Renewable Energy.

    Since 2000-2001, according to the California Energy Commission, power plants with maximum output totaling about 20,000 megawatts have become operational. An additional 3,900 megawatts are under construction and 4,700 more have been approved and are in pre-construction phases.

    The new plants should boost California’s energy independence. The state currently produces about 71% of the electricity it consumes, while it imports 8% from the Pacific Northwest and 21% from the Southwest.

    Natural gas was burned to make 45.3% of California’s power generated in-state in 2011. Nuclear power from San Onofre and Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County accounted for 18.3%, large hydropower 18.3%, renewable 16.6% and coal 1.6%.

    We need a National Feed in Tariff, for Renewable Energy, with laws that level the playing field, this petition starts with homeowners in California.

    Japan, Germany, and our state of Hawaii, will pay residents between 21- 52 cents per kilowatt hour, here in California they will pay a commercial FiT in a few counties at 17 cents per kilowatt hour, No Residential FiT and they wont let us oversize our Residential Renewable Energy systems.

    Want to change our Feed in Tariff? Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition ?

  64. fj says:

    A myth the fossil fuel industry thrives on especially since it monopolizes the way we get a lot of our energy and is a major drain on the economy and environment.

    The transition might be downright utopian.

  65. AlC says:

    I wish that the various people making comments here would also make some comments online in response to the news articles that have started appearing, and will appear after Tuesday. Don’t leave the Comments section just to the Deniers. Don’t let the negativity discourage you. The Comments sections need some thoughtful rational comments and some angry comments.

  66. AlC says:

    I wish that the various people making comments here would also make some comments online in the LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, and local papers in response to the news articles that have started appearing, and will appear after Tuesday. Don’t leave the Comments section just to the Deniers. Don’t let the negativity discourage you. The Comments sections need some thoughtful rational comments and some angry comments.

  67. Calamity Jean says:

    There are reasons why it’s called “Scotland the Brave”. Bravo Scotland!