By Briana Vannozzi
Two years in the making, President Obama formally unveiled the final steps of his “Clean Power Plan” to fight global climate change.
“Levels of carbon dioxide, which heats up our atmosphere, are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years,” he said.
The new plan will require cutting carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent by 2030 That’s compared with 2005 levels. It’s a jump from the previous target of 30 percent.
Right now, the White House says power plants are the source of about a third of America’s carbon pollution — more than cars, homes and airports generate combined.
“Here’s how it works. Over the next few years, each state will have the chance to put together its own plan for reducing emissions because every state has a different energy mix. Some generate more of their power from renewables,” Obama said.
“In a state like New Jersey that has had 22 major floods and been devastated by Hurricane Sandy and Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and everything else, we’re seeing first hand the impacts of climate change,” said New Jersey Sierra Club Chapter Director Jeff Tittel.
Though the president’s numbers are slightly higher, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, says since 2000 we’ve experienced 13 of the 15 warmest years on record — including 2014, the hottest year ever recorded.
Environmental groups credit New Jersey for having some of the toughest emissions laws in the nation, but say Gov. Chris Christie has held the state back, especially after pulling out of RGGI.
What’s the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions here?
“The number one source of greenhouse gases here in the state are still our cars and trucks on the road, so that’s not to say this plan does everything. There’s still more to do and focusing on how to green our transportation sector has got to be a focus if not for this gubernatorial administration, then for the next,” said Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley.
The plan won’t go through without a fight. Opponents have already sued to put the rule on hold. Many Republicans, including Gov. Christie, say the cost will end up on the backs of American citizens.
“We’ve already gone on record in New Jersey with a letter to the EPA opposing it. This is, again, the over-regulation of the Obama administration,” Christie said.
The state Department of Environmental Protection fleshed out that position today. New Jersey reduced CO2 emissions from its power sector by 33 percent from 2001 to 2012 — more, they say, than the EPA’s requirement.
“In the proposed rule, EPA only credit states for post-2012 CO2 emission reductions and gives no acknowledgement of New Jersey’s preexisting carbon-free nuclear power,” said NJ DEP Spokesperson Bob Considine.
In fact, since just 2008 New Jersey has cut emissions by 21 percent, putting us on track to meet the 2030 goal.
Environmental groups and advocates of the president’s plan will gather tomorrow in Jersey City, along with the mayor, to voice their support. States will now have an additional two years to submit their details as to how they’ll comply.