Today, President Obama announced a climate plan that will set limits on carbon pollution from power plants, advance energy efficiency and increase the nation’s commitment to renewable energy. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, record drought in many states, and extreme weather conditions across the country, the president’s plan to address global warming was loudly applauded by Environment Maryland and many others.
“Today President Obama responded to the millions of Americans who have spoken out on behalf of their communities and their families, urging him to lead on climate,” said Laura Lyon, field organizer with Environment Maryland. “All of us who have felt the effects of global warming, or simply worried about what’s in store for our kids, can take comfort in knowing that President Obama is putting the nation on a path toward a cleaner, healthier and safer future.”
Left unchecked, global warming is projected to result in everything from severe storms that will create more pollution runoff to summer droughts and severe heat waves that could affect growing seasons here in Maryland. According to the Maryland Department of Environment, Maryland has the fourth largest coastline in the country which makes us the third most vulnerable state to rising sea levels. Scientists have warned that the window is rapidly closing for making the necessary cuts in carbon pollution to protect future generations from the worst consequences of global warming.
To respond to this threat, the president’s plan contains several key components. It will:
- Limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. The president directed the Environmental Protection Agency to set limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, which currently lack any such federal limits despite being the largest single source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.
- Invest in energy efficiency. New efficiency measures for buildings and new appliances will cut carbon pollution by reducing our overall energy demand.
- Build more renewable energy. The plan focuses on expanding production of clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar, especially on public lands.
- Support affected communities. The president’s plan will help ensure that communities are better equipped to prepare for and recover from the impacts of global warming.
- Rebuild U.S. leadership internationally. The president’s plan calls for the U.S. to actively engage in international efforts to address global warming.
Environment Maryland offered special praise for the president’s pledge to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. More than 3.2 million Americans submitted public comments last year in support of the president setting limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
Cities and states across the country have been successfully implementing climate action plans and renewable energy solutions. Here in Maryland, Gov. O’Malley and other legislative champions have made our state a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We have one of the country’s few statewide greenhouse gas caps—in fact, the strongest approved by a legislature. To achieve that cap, Gov. O’Malley is slated to release in the near future a climate action plan for Maryland, in order to reduce emissions by at least 25% below 2006 levels by 2020.
Maryland also has aggressive targets for clean energy and energy efficiency, and the state is a member in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation’s first cap and trade program to reduce carbon from power plants. Most recently, with the championship of Gov. O’Malley and other legislative leaders, the General Assembly passed legislation which will allow the state to tap into the vast reserves of wind power off our Atlantic coast. These programs will help cut carbon pollution and have helped pave the way for Tuesday’s plan for federal action from Pres. Obama.
“Carbon pollution from power plants is a huge part of the global warming problem. Today President Obama acknowledged this and mapped out a plan for cleaning up this pollution,” said Lyon. “We also know that this plan is just one important step in a multi-year effort, and that the proof of the plan’s success will be in the pudding. Environment Maryland stands ready to assist the president in following through on this critical commitment.”