Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Obama Reigning in Emissions from Existing Coal Power Plants, Transportation and Homes

On June 25th 2013, US President Barack Obama unveiled his national climate change mitigation strategy which includes mandated emissions reduction from coal plants and transportation and people's homes.

The federal government's mitigation strategy aims to reduce emissions of three major greenhouse gases (GHGs) carbon dioxide (Co2), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane (CH4).

One of the chief provisions of the plan involves reducing allowable emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. The White House indicated that 8 billion dollars will be set aside in loan guarantees to help power plants reduce their emissions.

Cutting emissions at US coal-fired power plants will have a major impact on GHG levels and air quality which directly impacts people's health. Coal power accounts for 45 per cent of the nation's total electricity generation and produces 34 per cent of the US'GHGs.

The Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) is expected to issue their carbon emissions limits for existing powers plants by June 2014 and finalize the regulations in 2015. Anonymous senior administration officials said the President will launch a flexible process in which the EPA will work with states to reign-in carbon emissions.

In the transportation sector the government says it will work with the auto industry to develop more stringent post-2018 fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles. The federal government will also work with the private and public sector in the areas of biofuels, advanced batteries and fuel cell technologies.

The strategy also entails new efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings. It is expected that this will cut carbon emissions by around 3 billion metric tons by 2030 which is the equivalent of a half-year's worth of carbon pollution from power plants.

The new energy goal aims to get 20 percent of the federal government's electricity from renewable sources by 2020 which is almost three times the current target of 7.5 percent. By 2020, the government will also instal 100 MW of renewable capacity across federally subsided housing and build enough wind and solar projects on federal lands to power more than 6 million homes.

In addition to these climate change mitigation efforts there will also be adaptation initiatives including establishing a task force to advise on how the federal government can better support climate preparedness and taking measures to improve climate resilience.

To support these efforts the White House will launch a “climate data initiative” and a “toolkit for climate resilience” that provides data-driven resilience tools, services and best practices.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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