Aiming to jolt the rest of the world to action, President Barack Obama moved ahead Sunday with even tougher greenhouse gas cuts on American power plants, setting up a certain confrontation in the courts with energy producers and Republican-led states.
In finalizing the unprecedented pollution controls, Obama was installing the core of his ambitious and controversial plan to drastically reduce overall U.S. emissions, as he works to secure a legacy on fighting global warming. Yet it will be up to Obama’s successor to implement his plan, amid steep Republican opposition that has reverberated from Capitol Hill to the 2016 presidential campaign trail.
“Climate change is not a problem for another generation,” Obama said. “Not anymore.
Opponents planned to sue immediately, and to ask the courts to put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. Many states have threatened not to comply.
Last year, the Obama administration proposed the first greenhouse gas limits on existing power plants in U.S. history, triggering a yearlong review and 4 million public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency. In a video posted to Facebook, Obama said he would announce the final rule at a White House event on Monday, calling it the biggest step the U.S. has ever taken on climate change.
The final version imposes stricter carbon dioxide limits on states than was previously expected: a 32 percent cut by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, senior administration officials said. Obama’s proposed version last year called only for a 30 percent cut.
Energy industry advocates said the revision makes Obama’s mandate even more burdensome and impossible to meet. But environmental groups and Democrats said they would push back — including Hillary Rodham Clinton, who used the occasion to criticize her GOP opponents in the presidential race for failing to offer a credible alternative.