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President Obama’s 6 Big ClimateAchievements

Obama solarThanks, Obama: 6 Big Climate Accomplishments From President Obama’s Tenure, Clean Technica, January 12th, 2017 Originally published on The Climate Reality Project.

“……….Here are six big climate accomplishments from President Obama’s time in office……..

THE CLEAN POWER PLAN In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever standards to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. The EPA projected the plan would bring many, many benefits for Americans, including creating tens of thousands of jobs, saving US citizens as much as $155 billion in energy costs between 2020—2030, and helping prevent some 90,000 asthma attacks in children by 2030.

The benefits didn’t end at our borders, either, as the plan showed the rest of the world we were serious about reducing emissions, leading to a landmark climate deal with China in 2015 that helped energize international climate talks at COP 21. These talks led to the historic Paris Agreement being forged in December 2015.

The Clean Power Plan was a cornerstone of the US commitment to reduce overall emissions 26—28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 in the agreement.

A BAN ON DRILLING IN US-OWNED PARTS OF THE ARCTIC AND ATLANTIC OCEANS In December, President Obama worked to seal his environmental legacy by permanently banning offshore drilling in Arctic and Atlantic waters controlled by the US federal government – an incredible 3.8 million acres. This is an important move not only to protect marine life, but also to protect our climate. This is especially important in the Arctic. According to NOAA, the region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world on average.

Some have gone as far as to call President Obama the “Ocean President” because he’s protected more marine areas from development than any other president before him. Since the beginning of Obama’s presidency, his administration has quadrupled the area of protected waters around the US.

COAL LEASING MORATORIUM Between 2009 and 2014, companies mined enough coal on public lands to put more than 3.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent emissions of over 825 million cars on the road – every year.

In January 2016, though, the climate community had a major win when the Department of the Interior put a temporary freeze on leasing our public lands for coal mining (called a moratorium). The moratorium is a big deal because when coal is burned for energy, it creates more carbon dioxide per unit than any other fossil fuel.

The bottom line? When we lease our federal lands for coal, we’re helping fuel climate change. The moratorium – though temporary – helps stop that.

PROPOSED NEW FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS One of the more important moves by the Obama Administration (and it’s gone under the radar in some ways) has been to significantly push fuel economy standards for the vehicles filling our roads and highways – and sending carbon pollution into the atmosphere. In 2011, the White House proposed new fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, requiring an average performance equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The administration also finalized new fuel economy standards for commercial trucks, vans, and buses, which are projected to save over 500 million barrels of oil and save American drivers an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs.

These new standards are the most ambitious any US president has implemented, and will save consumers money at the pump, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce US demand for oil.

IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN HOMES AND BUSINESSES The Obama Administration has focused on increasing energy efficiency not only to protect our environment, but also save Americans money and create jobs. One of the major ways the White House is accomplishing this is through the Better Buildings Challenge, a US Department of Energy initiative focused on making homes, commercials buildings, and industrial plants more energy efficient.

The Better Buildings Challenge is projected to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020 through investments in upgrading offices, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings. It’s also projected to save companies and business owners about $40 billion per year on energy bills, which can be used to hire more workers and benefit companies in other ways.

CUTTING METHANE EMISSIONS In May 2016, the EPA announced final regulations to curb harmful methane emissions from new and modified oil and gas facilities. These first-ever federal methane pollution standards are a big part of how the US will reach its goal of cutting this pollution by 40–45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

While there’s less methane than CO2 in the atmosphere, it’s much more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat – 84 times more potent over 20 years, in fact. Which means it can still do a lot of harm to our climate. These new rules will help rein in the millions of tons of methane the oil and gas industry is leaking into the air, and is a big climate win for the Obama Administration – and all of us……….

January 16, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | 1 Comment

Despite shutdown of Indian Point nuclear plant, New York will invest billions in upgrading other nuclear stations

The shutdown of New York’s Indian Point is far from the end of nuclear power The agreement between the state and the plant owner comes as New York will invest billions in the upgrade of nuclear power plants upstate. Christian Science Monitor  Staff |  JANUARY 8, 2017 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is supportive of nuclear power generation upstate, but has long said a facility 30 miles north of Manhattan is too close to the nation’s most populous city.

Mr. Cuomo will get his wish in 2021, as the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant in Westchester County will shut down its two nuclear reactors under an agreement New York State reached with plant owner Entergy, The New York Times first reported. At the same time, the state has authorized up to $7.6 billion in ratepayer-financed subsidies to keep three other aging nuclear plants operating upstate.

In one sense, the agreement to close Indian Point is part of a nationwide trend to close aging power plants critics have long said pose too many safety risks. California reached a similar agreement with the state’s largest utility provider early this summer to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco……..

In New York, Entergy has agreed to close the first of Indian Point’s two reactors by April 2020 and the second exactly a year later.

The agreement, a source confirmed to the Times and the Associated Press, will resolve longstanding disputes between Entergy, a Louisiana-based utility company, and New York State. The state and Riverkeeper, an environmental group that has long fought Indian Point, have agreed to drop safety and environmental claims they previously filed with federal regulatory agencies against the nuclear plant that came online in the 1970s, according to the Times. Entergy, meanwhile, has agreed to make repairs and safety upgrades, as well as allow inspections into the plant starting this year.

Entergy and the New York Attorney General’s office have each signed off on the agreement, which would also approve Indian Point’s two reactor licenses for six years, which expired in 2013 and 2015. The governor’s office has not yet signed off on the agreement……..

The move to close Indian Point would follow the shuttering of other plants across the country. In addition to the proposal to close the Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo, Calif., energy companies across the country pulled the plug between 2013 and 2014 on four nuclear power plants. In June, Exelon Corp. also announced plansto shutter two nuclear plants in Illinois by 2017 and 2018, respectively……

The Cuomo administration also recently authorized billions worth of upgrades to three upstate nuclear facilities because, it said, nuclear power is necessary to transition the state to renewables.

There are currently 100 nuclear reactors (including the one that came online in Tennessee in October) in the United States, concentrated in 30 states, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Nuclear energy supplies about 20 percent of the nation’s power, while renewables – wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectricity – produce 13 percent combined.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment