President Barack Obama released a set of policies meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions including carbon dioxide from the power generation sector. The White House will direct the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize and implement rules to cap the amount of carbon dioxide that both new and old power plants can release.
"Today, we have limits in place for arsenic, mercury and lead, but we let power plants release as much carbon pollution as they want — pollution that is contributing to higher rates of asthma attacks and more frequent and severe floods and heat waves," according to a White House statement.
Obama's plan will direct the EPA to work with states, industry and other stakeholders to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants, according to the White House.
Speaking at Georgetown University, Obama said that while the EPA does regulate the release of toxins like arsenic and mercury, there is no nationwide standard to limit carbon dioxide pollution, even though the EPA has found that carbon dioxide pollution represents a public health risk.
The plan makes available some $8 billion in loan guarantee authority for "advanced fossil energy" technology and energy efficiency programs.
Overall, the plan sets a cumulative goal to reduce carbon dioxide pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons by 2030 — or more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector — through increased energy efficiency standards set over the course of the administration for appliances and federal buildings.
The Department of the Interior, as part of the plan, will issue permits for renewable energy projects, allowing wind and solar farms to be built on public lands.
These projects, according to the White House, will produce enough renewable power by 2020 to energize 6 million average American homes. The DOI will grant priority permitting to a hydropower project as part of this effort.
The plan also sets a goal to install 100 MW in new renewable power capacity on federally assisted housing by 2020.
To increase energy efficiency, the President's Better Building Challenge for multi-family dwellings and commercial and industrial space will be expanded.