Climate Change, EPA, Green, Health

How Obama Made Climate Change History this Week

Barack Obama with "change we need" poster.
Obama’s drastic climate changes are exactly what we need.
Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com

Early this week, the Obama administration unveiled historic environmental rules to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30% by 2030. The rules, announced formally by the Environmental Protection Agency, are the first time any president has moved to regulate carbon pollution from power plants – the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change.

“For the sake of our families’ health and our kids’ future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. “When we do, we’ll turn risks on climate into business opportunity. We’ll spur innovation and investment, and we’ll build a world-leading clean energy economy.”

The proposed rules also would result in reductions in particle pollutions, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent, which EPA officials say would prevent in 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children per year once fully implemented. The health improvements also would result in the avoidance of 490,000 missed work or school days, which the EPA says equals savings of $93 billion a year.

Four power plants emitting pollution
Obama’s new environmental policy requires a 30% cut in power plant carbon emissions by 2030.
Image: Shutterstock

The proposal, although promoted fully by the president and Democratic leadership in Congress, ran into immediate opposition from business lobbies, Republicans in Congress and some Democrats facing tough election battles. The coal industry – which will be hit hardest by the new rules – said the regulations would hurt the economy and lead to power outages.

“If these rules are allowed to go into effect, the administration, for all intents and purposes, is creating America’s next energy crisis,” the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity said.

The problem is, the climate crisis will wipe us all out if we don’t do something big about it. What sort of world do we want our children to live in, or their children, or their children’s children? And for that matter, when does our planet just become completely unlivable? Will people believe that the time is right for a change then? No one ever said tackling a problem like climate change was going to be easy–it’s going to cost us a lot of money, effort, and yes, in some cases maybe even jobs (in many cases, it will actually create new jobs). But if we ignore it, or if we don’t do enough to combat it, the problem will only get worse. Isn’t the health of our planet more important than money? Than jobs? If we don’t figure something out, then someday money and jobs won’t matter anymore–because we’ll have completely destroyed our home, the place that allows us to live at all. It’s about time the U.S. got on board with climate change reform–especially since we’re one of the largest offenders. So bravo, Mr. Obama. Let’s just hope it’s not too late to make a difference.

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