PORTLAND, OR – Today, President Obama announced a climate plan that will set limits on carbon pollution from power plants, advance energy efficiency and increase the nation’s commitment to renewable energy. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, record drought in many states, and the largest wildfires in Oregon in over a century, the president’s plan to address global warming was loudly applauded by Environment Oregon and many others.
“Today President Obama responded to the millions of Americans who have spoken out on behalf of their communities and their families, urging him to lead on climate,” said Sarah Higginbotham, State Director of Environment Oregon. “All of us who have felt the effects of global warming, or simply worried about what’s in store for our kids, can take comfort in knowing that President Obama has put the nation on a path toward a cleaner, healthier and safer future.”
“We can also be proud of Gov. Kitzhaber's leadership in creating a 10-Year Energy Plan to help tackle the problem of climate change pollution and celebrate the bills he signed into law today,” Higginbotham continued.
Left unchecked, global warming is projected to bring to Oregon more intense storms and costly wildfires. Scientists have warned that the window is rapidly closing for making the necessary cuts in carbon pollution to protect future generations from the worst consequences of global warming.
To respond to this threat, the president’s plan contains several key components. It will:
• Limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. The president directed the Environmental Protection Agency to set limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, which currently lack any such federal limits despite being the largest single source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.
• Invest in energy efficiency. New efficiency measures for buildings and new appliances will cut carbon pollution by reducing our overall energy demand.
• Build more renewable energy. The plan focuses on expanding production of clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar, especially on public lands.
• Support affected communities. The president’s plan will help ensure that communities are better equipped to prepare for and recover from the impacts of global warming.
• Rebuild U.S. leadership Internationally. The president’s plan calls for the U.S. to actively engage in international efforts to address global warming.
More than 3.2 million Americans submitted public comments last year in support of the president setting limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Numerous organizations and opinion leaders from Oregon have spoken out in support.
While Gov. Kitzhaber voiced his support for the president’s plan, he also signed into law a series of bills that will help move his 10-Year Energy Plan forward.
“I also want to applaud President Obama for his effort to address climate change at the national level,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “His actions to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, improve appliance standards, and promote renewable energy on public lands will reduce our nation’s carbon footprint while making the U.S. more competitive.”
The bills signed into law today represent a step forward in meeting the goals of Governor Kitzhaber’s 10-Year Energy Plan: Senate Bill 692, which improves Oregon’s energy efficiency standards for appliances; House Bill 2801, which expands market opportunities for energy efficiency; and Senate Bill 242, which reduces the amount of coal in the state’s future energy resource mix to encourage investment in lower-carbon alternatives.
“Energy is the issue of our time, and no single issue will have a greater impact on our state’s economy, environment and quality of life in the coming decade,” said Gov. Kitzhaber. Some bills are still under consideration in the legislature that could make further improvements, such as lifting the sunset on Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program.
Additionally mayors of Oregon’s two largest cities, Mayor Charlie Hales of Portland and Mayor Kitty Piercy of Eugene, announced their support of the president’s plan.
“President Obama’s global leadership paves the way for cities like Portland to take local action,” said Mayor Hales. “Global warming is one of the great moral challenges of our time. As local communities are buffeted by the effects of global warming, so, too, should local governments take action. And, taking our cue from President Obama, we are.”
Environment Oregon offered special praise for the president’s pledge to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants.
“Carbon pollution from power plants is a huge part of the global warming problem. Today President Obama acknowledged this and mapped out a plan for cleaning up this pollution,” said Higginbotham. “We also know that this plan is just one important step in a multi-year effort, and that the proof of the plan’s success will be in the pudding. Environment Oregon stands ready to assist the president in following through on this critical commitment.”