Obama’s Climate Action Plan Welcomed in the South

Guest Blog | June 25, 2013 | Press Releases

Asheville, N.C. (06/25/2013) – After numerous speeches noting our moral obligation to address the causes of climate change, today President Obama outlined his administration’s proposal for taking additional actions. Although addressing climate change is often considered a controversial issue, several polls over the last year have shown that there is significant support for climate action, with the latest polls showing support for EPA action by 87% of Americans. Though the South often lags behind other regions in accepting changes to its energy mix, there is real demand for progress in this area where clean energy solutions and carbon emission limitations are most needed.

Coal plants in the Southeast contribute an unparalleled amount of carbon dioxide when compared to the rest of the country – in 2012 alone, over 366 million tons of carbon dioxide came from roughly 270 coal units at 82 power plants in eight Southeastern states. In addition to promising another 10 gigawatts of wind and solar projects on public lands by 2020, President Obama has asked EPA to impose the first ever carbon limits on existing power plants. In a final effort to achieve his carbon reduction goals of 17% of 2005 carbon emission levels by 2020, the President has pledged to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants – the nation’s largest source of climate change-inducing pollution.

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued this statement about today’s policy proposals:

“As a southern organization, we welcome the President’s leadership in taking responsible action on this issue. Because of our generation mix, the South is a significant contributor to this problem, and our coastlines leave us uniquely vulnerable to increasingly severe storms and extreme weather events, sea level rise and flooding. We have untapped potential for clean energy solutions in our region, with immature efficiency standards and renewable energy commitments. We welcome the administration’s efforts to make coastal communities more resilient, and we are excited to see what this renewed commitment to clean energy solutions can do for the region.

There are a significant number of federal assets in the South, including multiple military bases, major Department of Energy facilities and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the nation’s largest public-power utility. As the federal government strives to meet their new goal of consuming 20% of its renewables by 2020, there is a unique opportunity for them to lead by example in this region with the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. While the Departments of Energy and Defense are already moving in this direction, there is still more that TVA can do to follow the administration’s lead.”

The president’s climate strategy focuses on approaching the issue from many sides, combining stronger federal regulations to curb carbon pollution with increased investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. You can view the full text of the President’s Climate Action Plan here.

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Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org