Climate change is real, it is upon us, and it is human caused: this is the overwhelming consensus of all reputable American and international scientists. In fact, the IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world’s greatest meeting of scientific minds now or ever, has met, reviewed all the literature and concluded that climate change is rapidly shaping up to be the worst environmental and humanitarian disaster in human history, urging the world to act.
Five times. The IPCC five times has issued dire warnings, as the world’s leaders sit on their hands.
We are already experiencing climate change’s effects with hotter summers, more extreme weather and lethal natural disasters, and hoards of important species becoming endangered and extinct. Scientists agree that our planet is undergoing a massive transformation brought on by increased levels of fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere by humans.
After years of inaction by Congress, President Obama is now acting on his own, announcing important new Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring that power plants cut their emissions by 30% by 2030 (from 2005 levels).
Does he have the legal power to enact these new regulations without Congressional approval? He does.
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts v. EPA that the EPA has the authority to treat greenhouse gases as dangerous pollutants, enabling it to use the Clean Air Act to place limits on them. And in 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in American Electric Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut that the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon pollution from power plants. (Power plants powered by coal currently account for approximately 74% of carbon dioxide emissions.) What followed, then, is President Obama’s recent 645 page plan, exercising that power.
The Obama plan allows individual states to choose how they want to go about meeting these future restrictions by choosing from a variety of policy options, rather than imposing a uniform standard for everyone. The regulations also promote alternative energy – a vital, job-creating step towards a green future.
These new regulations mark President Obama’s biggest and boldest move to protect the environment, finally living up to his words on the campaign trail. After his cap-and-trade bill failed to pass in Congress in 2010, many had given up hope that he would fulfill promises of environmental conservation.
No issue is more dire, more important to our children’s future, to the futures of people, animals, plants, our land and seas. History may very well judge this tome of EPA regulations to be the most important measures passed during President Obama’s two terms. At last, leadership on this grave issue.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Avvo.