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President Unveils Climate Action Plan


On June 25, 2013, President Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan that is based on three key goals: (1) cut carbon pollution in America; (2) prepare the United States for the impact of climate change; and (3) lead international efforts to combat global climate change and prepare for its impacts.  The plan will be implemented by executive authority that does not require congressional action. 

A primary component of the plan is to cut carbon pollution from power plants.  To that end, the President issued a memorandum to EPA, also on June 25, directing the agency to:

  • Issue new proposed greenhouse gas regulations for new power by September 20, 2013 as EPA has indicated the intent to reissue proposed regulations in light of more than 2 million comments received on its April 13, 2012 proposal.
  • Issue proposed “carbon pollution standards, regulations, or guidelines, as appropriate” for modified, reconstructed and existing power plants by June 1, 2014, issue final rules by June 1, 2015 and require state implementation plans to be submitted to EPA by June 30, 2016.

With regard to the existing source standards, the President directed:

  • The rulemaking is to directly engage states “as they will play a central role in establishing and implementing standards for existing power plants.”  The agency is also directed to involve the power sector, labor leaders and non-governmental groups as well as the public.
  • The regulations should be tailored to reduce costs and should develop approaches that allow the use of market-based instruments, performance standards and other regulatory flexibilities.
  • EPA is to ensure continued reliable and affordable electric power and work with the Department of Energy and other agencies to “promote the reliable and affordable provision of electric power through the continued development and deployment of cleaner technologies and by increasing energy efficiency, including through stronger appliance efficiency standards and other measures.”

On July 30, 2013, in her first speech as confirmed EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy remarked that almost a dozen states have already begun market based greenhouse gas programs and renewable as well as renewable and energy efficiency programs.  She indicated that the upcoming EPA rules would respect the work already done by those states.

The President’s Climate Action Plan can be found here.

To view a complete PDF of the Second Quarter 2013 issue of the Air Quality Letter, click HERE.

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