Obama takes on power plant emissions as part of climate plan

Tue Jun 25, 2013 6:00am EDT
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By Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will attempt to kick-start a global climate agenda on Tuesday with proposals including a plan to limit carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants that is sure to face opposition from the coal industry, many business groups and Republican lawmakers.

Obama, whose first-term attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a "cap and trade" system was thwarted by Congress, promised in his second inaugural address to tackle the issue again.

Environmentalists and Obama's political base have been anxious for action, but the first months of his second term have been dominated by immigration reform, a failed attempt to pass strict gun control measures, and a series of political scandals.

Republicans, in turn, have been emboldened by Obama's stumbles. Many also question climate science and oppose regulatory actions they say could hurt the economy.

The Democratic president aims to address those concerns and make good on his inaugural promise with a speech, scheduled for 1:55 p.m. (1755 GMT), that lays out a new plan to reduce emissions, boost renewable fuels, and lead the world in tackling global warming.

The key proposal involves the thousands of power plants, many of them coal-fired, which account for roughly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama will direct the Environmental Protection Agency to draft a plan setting carbon emission limits on existing power plants by June 2014, finalizing those rules a year later, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters before the speech.

"We already set limits for arsenic, mercury and lead, but we let power plants release as much carbon pollution as they want," one official said.   Continued...