by Amanda Hermans
President Barack Obama announced a major climate change plan on Monday, which will focus on cutting carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants across all fifty states. The plan aims to create a cleaner and healthier world for future generations.
The plan mandates a nation-wide reduction of 32 percent in emissions compared to 2005 levels by the year 2030. It allows individual states to create their own plan to meet that goal, with a draft due in 2016 and a final plan set in each state by 2018. It also requires that every new power plant produces only half the emissions that current plants produce on average.
In drafting this plan, Obama said that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) embarked on the longest engagement process in its history. He said they worked with states, power companies, faith groups and environmental groups to make sure the plan was “realistic and achievable, but still ambitious” according to Obama.
The president reflected on the nation’s environmental successes to date, but stressed that to protect the financial and international security of the country, as well as the health of future generations, we must push forward.
“The science tells us we have to do more,” he said.
Critics are already denouncing the plan, claiming it will raise electric bills and hurt job growth. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush went so far as to call the plan “irresponsible” and “overreaching.”
“Climate change will not be solved by grabbing power from states or slowly hollowing out our economy,” Bush said in a statement. “The real challenge is how do we grow and prosper in order to foster more game-changing innovations and give us the resources we need to solve problems like this one.”
Obama responded to his critics by claiming that electric bills will actually go down with higher energy efficiency and new jobs will grow with the clean energy market.
“If you care about low-income and minority communities, start protecting the air that they breathe, and stop trying to rob them of their health care,” Obama said to a standing ovation.
Obama spent that last part of his announcement emphasizing America’s duty to be a world leader in the fight against what he calls the greatest threat to future generations.
“When the world faces its toughest challenges, America leads the way forward. We can solve this thing, but we have to get going,” he said. “We only get one home, we only get one planet, there is no Plan B.”