President Obama unveiled an aggressive laundry list of actions in a speech on Tuesday that will help to reduce U.S. carbon emissions, boost domestic clean power generation and increase spending on clean energy projects and clean tech innovation. The moves fell short of proposing new laws that would need to get support from Congress, which would have proven extremely difficult, but represented the President’s strongest move to fight climate change to date.
As expected, Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to complete carbon emissions regulation for new and existing power plants. That means that when the EPA finalizes its policies, it could lead to the closure and restriction of older coal plants. Obama also called for another doubling of clean power from electricity (they already doubled it once), a fiscal year 2014 budget with $7.9 billion for clean energy technology across agencies, new efficiency standards for appliances, and a variety of other proposals (see the embed of the proposal below).
Beyond the details of Obama’s climate action plan, the words he used in his speech were strong, demanding America’s action on fighting climate change, and pushing back on anyone that didn’t believe in the science behind climate change. “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society,” he said. He started his speech by stating simply, “We need to act.”
Obama’s words will no doubt embolden the cleantech entrepreneurs, investors and innovators building the next generation of clean power technologies. It’s no secret that the last couple of years have been very difficult for cleantech startups. “We can use new technology,” science and research “to write new rules,” said Obama, explaining that its not “either, or,” when it comes to the economy and fighting climate change, it’s “both, and.” Obama gave a shout out to the scientists that would design new fuels, farmers that would grow new fuels, and workers that would operate assembly lines with high tech components for carbon emissions free technologies.
More surprising, Obama hinted at a few even more aggressive stances on the fossil fuel industry. He mentioned the Keystone pipeline and said it would be in the nation’s interest only “if it does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”