The consequences? Stronger storms and rising seas

Our children and future generations will be the ones to bear the worst impacts from global warming, but we’re already starting to feel the effects. In recent years, we’ve seen stronger, more frequent storms like Hurricane Sandy. We’ve also seen devastating drought and flooding in the Midwest and destructive wildfires in Colorado and elsewhere in the West. Extreme weather could become “the new normal” as global warming wreaks havoc on our climate. Read our report, "In the Path of the Storm," to learn more.

Global warming will also threaten our coastal communities with rising sea levels from Florida to Maine.  

We know this warming is being fueled primarily by carbon pollution – and the largest single source of carbon pollution in America is our power plants – which produce 40 percent of emissions nationally. Currently, power plants face no federal limits on carbon pollution, so cleaning up our power plants is the biggest single step we can take in the near term to reduce carbon pollution and tackle global warming.

And right now, there are clear opportunities to do what is necessary to protect future generations.

Cleaning up the largest polluters and advancing clean energy solutions

The good news is that we know what we need to do to solve this problem and create a greener, healthier, more sustainable world for everyone.

In the short term, we can limit carbon from power plants and expand our use of clean energy. In the longer term, we can build enough wind farms and solar panels to replace the dirty coal and gas plants that are powering our homes, businesses and industries. We can make our homes and businesses so efficient that with solar panels on the roof, they can produce more energy than they use. We can re-build our communities so that we can walk, bike or take the bus to work. And we can build hyper-efficient and electric cars, so that when we do need to drive, we get 100 miles to the gallon or better.

A new path forward

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a sweeping new Climate Action Plan. The centerpiece of his plan is directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, the largest single sources of carbon pollution, responsible for 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions.

The president laid out the following timeline to finish the rules:

Sep 20, 2013: EPA proposes an updated rule for cutting carbon pollution from new power plants. This rule, if finalized, would block the development of all new dirty coal plants.

June 1, 2014: EPA proposes a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants.

June 1, 2015: EPA finalizes limits for carbon pollution from existing power plants. At this point, the rule will be reviewed by Congress..

June 1, 2016: EPA requires final implementation plans from the states for their plans to meet the final rule.

This announcement was a hard-fought win – King Coal, Big Oil, and the rest of the dirty power industry bitterly opposed these rules, but we and our allies in the environmental and public health community had submitted more than 3.2 million public comments to the EPA in support of the rule to cut carbon pollution from new power plants, and have shown support from a broad array of powerful constituencies and stakeholders.

Additionally, President Obama’s plan does more to address global warming than limiting carbon pollution from power plants. It calls for increasing investment in the energy efficiency of our buildings, appliances, and heavy duty vehicles; expanding renewable energy production on public lands; equipping communities to better prepare for and respond to weather-related disasters; and rebuilding American leadership on the international stage on global warming.

Action in the states

The other good news is that long before President Obama’s plan, many states were filling the void on climate solutions left by congressional inaction. Six states now have statewide caps on carbon pollution and nine states from Maine to Maryland are participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which caps pollution from power plants in the region. Numerous other states have renewable energy standards and energy efficiency standards in place.

We’ve made huge strides in recent years and carbon pollution has already dropped 11 percent since its 2005 peak, but we’re still a long way from solving the climate crisis. Scientists say that developed countries such as the U.S. need to cut emissions of global warming pollution at least 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by at least 85 percent by 2050 in order to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

Click here to take action to cut carbon pollution.

Global Warming Updates

News Release | Environment America

Court Hears Argument NJ Gov. Christie Illegally Repealed Rules to Clean Up Climate Change Pollution

Trenton—Environmental groups argued their case before a New Jersey court this morning in a lawsuit against the Christie Administration that contends it illegally repealed rules limiting power plant pollution in the state, a move that effectively ended New Jersey’s participation in a regional program that is combating climate change. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment America

New Climate Science Report Shows that Reducing Global Warming Pollution is Urgent

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change officially released their latest report on global warming which provides powerful evidence that reducing emissions of climate-changing pollution is critically important and urgent. The report reinforces the urgent need to cut carbon and tackle global warming to protect future generations. Julian Boggs, global warming program director with Environment America issued the following statement in response:

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News Release | Environment America

Delaware Urged to Strengthen Cap on Climate-Altering Carbon Pollution

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control held a hearing today on proposed improvements to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional program designed to limit power plant emissions of carbon pollution into the air – and thereby cut the pollution that drives global warming. Environment America submitted comments, accompanied by a white paper, in support of strengthening the program.

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News Release | Environment America

No New Dirty Power Plants Under EPA Standard

Washington, D.C. – On the heels of the third largest wildfire in California history and devastating, record-breaking floods in Colorado, the Obama administration proposed a major new rule today to curb the carbon pollution spewing from power plants that fuels global warming. Scientists warn that without major reductions in carbon pollution, extreme weather will become even more frequent and severe.

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News Release | Environment America Research & Policy Center

Report Ranks America’s Biggest Carbon Polluters

A new Environment America Research and Policy Center report shines a light on America’s largest contributors to carbon pollution. The report ranks each state for its power plant pollution and lists the top 100 dirtiest plants.

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