Today at Georgetown University, President Obama announced a sweeping climate action plan that addressed several goals, timetables, and executive actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plan consists of a laundry list of federal actions ranging from efforts to cut carbon pollution to improving fuel economy standards. Last week in Berlin, Obama stated that climate change was “the global threat of our time,” but this new climate plan mostly restates federal actions that are already in place.
The biggest news from today’s speech was the creation of a Presidential Memorandum directing the Environmental Protection Agency to create regulations for both new and existing power plants. While regulations have been proposed for existing power plants before, they have been delayed repeatedly. However, thanks to the President’s proposed agenda, regulations regarding new power plants have moved from speculation to proposition for the first time.
In actuality, both types of regulations are already required by law under the 2007 Supreme Court rulings on the Clean Air Act. Furthermore, the new plan does not announce these new EPA rules; instead, it urges the EPA to work “expeditiously” to begin the rule making process.
The report also addresses several initiatives to cut carbon pollution within the United States through the pursuit of clean energy. As the largest consumer of energy in the United States, the Department of Defense is committed to deploying 3 gigawatts of renewable energy, equivalent to 3 million tons of coal, on military installations, including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal, by 2025.
Similar to its clean energy pursuits, the Department of Defense funds several alternate fuel initiatives set to eliminate the security threat caused by the military’s dependence on oil. The American Security project believes that the full development of biofuels by the Department of Defense will greatly help fight the adverse affects of fossil fuels on the climate. To read more of ASP’s take on the DoD’s biofuels program, click here.
Based on President Obama’s fuel efficiency standards of 2011, the report will create new fuel efficiency standards post-2018 for heavy-duty vehicles. These new standards will cut fuel consumption by applying advanced cost-effective technologies to promote efficiency in the transportation sector. While advanced biofuels only account for 10% of the current US fuel supply, the American Security Project firmly believes that advanced biofuels will play an integral role in America’s future fuel supply. To read more on ASP’s work on advanced biofuels, click here.
Lastly, the plan encourages the creation of a global market for gas. The administration claims that it has already mobilized billions of dollars for clean energy investments in developing countries in order to accelerate their transition to a green, low-carbon economy. The American Security Project believes that opening up LNG exports and exporting US shale gas technologies will provide more liquidity to the market, strengthen US energy security, hamper energy use as a political tool, and provide cleaner energy alternatives to key US allies. To read more on ASP’s views on LNG exports, click here.
Climate change is a significant threat to US national security, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is an essential step in the right direction. The climate challenges the national security architecture to prepare for and adapt to new security challenges like disaster response, food security, and water availability. While the administration’s new climate action plan does not lay out clear rules to combat climate change, it sets the stage for stronger regulation in the future.
We here at ASP are very pleased that the President is continuing to frame climate change as a critical emerging national security threat to the United States and the entire world. We hope that the general public and other nations will join the President’s call to action and take further steps to address climate change. To read more about ASP’s work on the link between climate change and national security, click here.