Obama’s renewable power drive faces legal obstacles

US President Barack Obama looks set to face legal challenges to his regulatory plans to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases.

The administration is attempting to tackle global warming through pushing US power generation away from coal power and towards gas and renewable sources.

President Barack Obama

Lacking support in Congress for climate legislation, Mr Obama will on Tuesday set out proposals for using regulation to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists say contribute to the threat of man-made global warming.

The Financial Times reports that the success or failure of those proposals will hinge on the interpretation of the Clean Air Act. The law gives the administration the authority to act on greenhouse gases as a result of a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that carbon dioxide qualified as an “air pollutant”.

Business groups have already signalled they intend to fight against new emissions regulations. They have already challenged regulations from last year which limited the carbon dioxide emissions from new power plant.

That legislation made it impossible to build new coal-fired power plants without costly and untested carbon capture equipment.

Mr Obama’s present plans, which will also include measures to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy production on federal lands, have been welcomed by environmental groups.

In an email statement Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven told PEi, “This speech could be the dawn of a new era in which the White House finally stands up to the fossil fuel giants. We’ll know soon enough, when negotiators next meet at the UN climate talks in Warsaw. If this speech is to mean anything, if Obama is serious about challenging the dominance of the oil, gas and coal lobby, then the US diplomats who go to Poland will be the first to push for real action instead of holding the world back.”

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