President Obama laid out a detailed plan to address the causes and impacts of climate change in a speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday. "I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that's beyond fixing," he said.
A thread throughout Obama's plan is the idea that addressing climate change is a "moral obligation" to our children. The two-page outline of the plan [PDF] sent to reporters Monday evening came with the subhead "Taking Action for Our Kids," and mentioned "kids" or "future generations" a total of four times. The theme carried throughout his speech on Tuesday. "Your children's children will have to live with the consequences of our decisions," he said.
Here are the key components of the plan aimed at reducing U.S. emissions:
- Directs the EPA to issue draft emission rules for existing power plants by June 2014, to be finalized by June 2015.
- Asks the EPA to "work expeditiously" on finalizing rules for new power plants that the agency issued in March 2012 (though does not appear to include a due date for that).
- Pledges that the federal government will draw 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020.
- Sets a goal of permitting an additional 10 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands by 2020.
- Sets a goal of putting 100 megawatts of renewable energy on federally subsidized housing by 2020.
- Creates a new, $8 billion loan guarantee program for advanced fossil fuel projects at the Department of Energy (think clean coal, etc.).
- Directs the EPA and the Department of Transportation to work on fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans for after 2018 (following up on the 2014-18 rules they rolled out in 2011).
- Sets a goal of cutting at least 3 billion tons of carbon pollution by 2030 through improvements in energy efficiency standards.
- Calls for an end to U.S. funding for fossil fuel energy projects overseas unless they include carbon capture technology.
The rules for existing power plants could be huge news, as old, dirty plants account for 40 percent of all emissions in the U.S. But there are scant details on what exactly those rules will entail.