US President Barack Obama has announced major environmental policy changes aimed at increasing efforts to combat climate change.
Obama says the plan is the most important one ever taken in tackling climate change.
The aim of the revised Clean Power Plan is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from US power stations by nearly a third within 15 years.
“Combating climate change will protect the nation’s economy, security, and health,” President Obama said Monday while unveiling the plan designed to reduce power plant emissions and fated to be a major 2016 campaign issue.
“This is our moment to get this right and leave something better for our kids,” Obama said during a White House ceremony to formally unveil what he called his “Clean Power Plan.”
The plan, a major plank in Obama’s overall climate change agenda, immediately became a fault line in the emerging fight to succeed him as president.
Democratic presidential candidates praised the plan as a good way to confront the challenges of climate challenge; Republicans cast it as over-regulation that will reduce jobs and inflate utility bills, and vowed to change it if elected.
In his speech, Obama said that “no challenge poses a greater threat to our future” than climate change that is heating the atmosphere to record levels, and the nation may not be able to reverse the trend if it doesn’t act soon.
“There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change,” Obama said, blaming it for stronger storms, deeper droughts, and longer-lasting wildfire seasons.
However, opponents in the energy industry have vowed to fight the plan.
They say the changes would hurt employment numbers and put stress on power grid designs, especially in states such as West Virginia, which relies heavily upon coal power.
“I’m convinced no challenge provides a greater threat to the future of the planet,” Mr Obama said. “There is such a thing as being too late.”
Those opponents say Mr Obama has declared “a war on coal”. Power plants fired by coal provide more than a third of the US electricity supply.