Obama to hold off on announcing carbon standards for older power plants
February 12th, 2013
02:03 PM ET
1 year ago

Obama to hold off on announcing carbon standards for older power plants

(CNN) - As environmentalists wait to hear what President Barack Obama will say about climate change Tuesday night, they may be disappointed that one popular proposal won't be mentioned in his State of the Union address.

A senior administration official said the president will not announce regulations on carbon emissions for existing power plants, a standard already in place for new plants and a policy change sought by many environmental activists.

Watch CNN's comprehensive coverage of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address starting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV and follow online at CNN.com or via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Follow our real-time State of the Union live blog at cnn.com/conversation.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued its first limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new coal power plants, but not ones already in place. That came after the administration released new standards on toxic pollutants and mercury emissions from plants in 2011.

The official added, however, that the president has "a number of other tools," hinting that Obama will mention in his speech some prescriptions the White House considers aggressive.

Even if the president doesn't outline a specific plan Tuesday night for existing plants, that doesn't necessarily mean the president will stop pursuing such action, says one environmental expert.

Melinda Pierce, legislative director for the Sierra Club, said her group has been encouraging the president to "announce that bold step" in the State of the Union address, but acknowledged it may come later in his second term.

"Whether or not he actually says the word 'carbon,' I think we will hear at least some broad commitment to moving us from fossil fuels to clean energy," she said.

The president placed a surprising emphasis on climate change in his inauguration address last month, a topic he largely avoided during the campaign. Obama vowed to combat climate change, "knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

"Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science," he continued. "But none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms."

Pierce said they're looking to see if he dedicates as much "real estate" to climate change in his speech Tuesday night. In his previous State of the Union speeches, Obama rarely used the term "climate change" but addressed ways to strengthen clean energy policies and tied proposals to incentives for job creation.

Pierce said she expects Obama to stay on a similar track tonight, given that the president's larger theme will focus on jobs and the middle class. If he doesn't go into great detail about environmental policy, she said, it won't signal a reversal from his inauguration speech.

"It just makes our campaign to continue to build support all the more important," she said.


Filed under: Energy • President Obama • State of the Union
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Yeah, he's totally bein cowed by the "leftist environmentalists" on this one, because you know, nothing says "yes master, right away master" like "no, I'm not going to get into that not right now and I'm sorry you might be disappointed with having to wait." Go hump a lamppost, Boehner.

    February 12, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. empresstrudy

    Why should Obama do what he says he would do? That's hard and makes fewer than 100% of the population love and adore him.

    February 12, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. GOP Fails Arithmetic & Integrity Tests All The Time

    The Republican party is quick to latch onto words like the "Free Market" Economy. Well the truth is that there is an additional burden, an additional cost to Carbon Emissions. The true "market" would account for this rather than protect coal by way of special interest regulations and exemptions.

    Can coal compete if the cost of it`s carcenogenic and global warming chemistry are included? It would appear that Republicans fear the answer.

    February 12, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    One of the last acts Pres. Clinton signed into law was a piece of legislation strengthening emission limits. The GOP controlled House passed it for him as a going away present. [ Coincidently, this bill also contained a late amendment that repealled Glass-Steagall. ] One of Pres. Bush's first acts was to roll back the higher emission standards.

    In fact, Bush rolled them back to an lower level than what was in place when Clinton signed his bill into law. [ So, when they told us that contamination at ground zero didn't exceed EPA limits, they were actually telling the truth! ]

    February 12, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. much thunder.little rain

    thats a good thing ...if you have a job that is on that hit list....

    February 12, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. Name lynn

    Obama is not ready to talk yet, he will hes trying to help the older peopel not hurt them.

    February 12, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. Guest

    If the nation could run on BS tonights address would have our coffers full for generations.

    February 12, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    Can't we see GLOBAL-WARMING????

    February 12, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Why should Obama do what he says he would do? That's hard and makes fewer than 100% of the population love and adore him."

    Do you have any idea...even the first clue...how pathetic it looks when GOPers/Teatrolls try to rile up the "left" or "Dem base" by trying to make them angry at Obama for not pushing particular issues or pieces of legislation, etc.? Do you? Particularly when you then turn around and yell and scream out of the other side of your mouths that "Obama's pushing a far left radical agenda"? Do you realize how pathetic that attempt at having your cake and eating it too looks? Methinks you do not.

    February 12, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. The Mayor of Medinah

    well how about this administration allow clean coal, a few new refineries to be build, some additional infrastructure like new pipelines, how about some coal gasification plants.... not this lefty who want us all to be dependent, when we have the resources to be independent.

    February 12, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |