Ahead of the plans President Barack Obama is expected to unveil Tuesday to combat climate change, a White House adviser has said “a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”
Speaking with the New York Times, Harvard University geochemist Daniel Schrag, who is a member of the panel advising the administration on climate change, said “everybody is waiting for action.” It is action he hopes will come with Obama’s speech today at Georgetown University.
“The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed,” Schrag told the Times, more specifically.
Some might recall Obama saying during his 2008 presidential campaign that his administration would institute a cap and trade system where “every unit of pollution would be charged to the polluter.” The now president said this would create a market that would require new plants to meet the “rigors of that market,” essentially favoring energy producers with less pollution.
“So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted,” Obama said during the interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.
Watch this clip showing the interview:
Others are anxiously awaiting Obama’s announcement too, which is expected to set limits on carbon emissions for new and existing power plants. The Times has more from those voicing their impatience for action on climate change mitigation tactics:
“Really, this is a moment that’s been 20 years in the making,” said David Hawkins, director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Most of the last 20 years, unfortunately, have not been well spent.”
Andrew Steer, the president of the World Resources Institute and a former top official at the World Bank, called the presidential initiative “extraordinarily important.”
“The United States has been notable in recent years for a lack of a national climate strategy,” Mr. Steer said in a telephone briefing for reporters. “It’s a wonderful thing to see that he is reclaiming this issue.”
The Obama administration has already proposed controls on new plants, but those controls have been delayed and not yet finalized. Tuesday’s announcement will be the first public confirmation that Obama plans to extend emission controls to coal-fired power plants that are currently pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Other expected provisions include more solar, wind and geothermal projects on public land.
In Berlin last week, Obama called climate change “the global threat of our time.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
(H/T: Weekly Standard)
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