Crain News Service report
WASHINGTON (June 26, 2013) — Calling for action against climate change, President Barack Obama said he's directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enact new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.
In a 45 minute speech June 25 from Georgetown University, Mr. Obama laid out the case for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through coal power plants, along with the expansion of solar and wind energy. He also pushed for coal users to switch to natural gas.
"As a president, as a father and as an American, I'm here to say to we need to act," Mr. Obama said.
He pushed for individuals to work at convincing those in power that a reduction of carbon pollution is needed, saying there's no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economy.
Mr. Obama also took dead aim at those who deny climate change is happening.
"I don't have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real," he said. "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it's not going to protect you from the coming storm."
Although he talked about methane emissions, he didn't mention landfill or landfill emissions. He did, however, push for natural gas, something the waste industry is intimately connected to.
"The bottom line is natural gas is creating jobs," he said. "It's lowering many families' heat and power bills. And it's the transition fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution even as our businesses work to develop and then deploy more of the technology required for the even cleaner energy economy of the future."
Various environmental groups praised Mr. Obama's speech, including the Sierra Club.
"Taking action to avert the worst effects of climate change, such as investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, will create jobs and a more resilient economy," said Michael Brune, executive director of the organization.
Covanta Energy Corp., the largest operator of waste-to-energy facilities in the country, also applauded Mr. Obama's speech.
"Today's announcement is a significant step forward in addressing the urgent challenge of climate change," said Dr. Paul Gilman, Covanta Energy's chief sustainability officer. "Recent research demonstrates that sustainable waste management is a critical tool in our arsenal, with the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by one billion tons of carbon equivalents every year by 2050 through energy savings and landfill methane avoidance. That reduction is quite significant—the equivalent of building two million wind turbines or shutting down 1,000 large coal power plants."
Not everyone was happy with the speech—Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said the plan would destroy jobs in the coal industry.
"[The announcement] is another move in the president's tyrannical game of picking winners and losers in the energy industry," she said in a statement. "Instead of supporting an all-of-the-above plan, President Obama's devastating regulations will shut down existing coal plants and halt the development of clean coal technology facilities. Not only will this decision hamstring our nation's ability to become energy independent, but it will prove devastating for American workers and consumers."
Mr. Obama also took time in the speech to back Gina McCarthy's nomination to lead the EPA. Republicans have stalled the nomination.
"Gina has worked for the EPA in my administration, but she's also worked for five Republican governors," he said. "She's got a long track record of working with industry and business leaders to forge common-sense solutions.
"Unfortunately, she's being held up in the Senate. She's been held up for months, forced to jump through hoops no cabinet nominee should ever have to—not because she lacks qualifications, but because there are too many in the Republican party right now who think that the Environmental Protection Agency has no business protecting our environment from carbon pollution."
This report appeared on the website of Waste & Recycling News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.