The Mountain Times

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President Obama’s climate plan a clear victory for Vermont, future generations

On Tuesday, June 25, 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 like wind and solar power. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, record drought in many states, and devastating wildfires in the West, the president's plan to address global warming was loudly applauded by Gov. Peter Shumlin, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) and many others.

"Today, President Obama did more than talk-the-talk when it comes to taking action on climate change; he walked-the-walk," said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG.  "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."

Left unchecked, global warming is projected to bring to Vermont more intense storms and more unhealthy air days. For instance, an Environment America report released last year found that Vermont is hit with more frequent, more destructive extreme precipitation - heavy downpours or snowstorms that used to happen once annually now happen every 6.5 months on average, and Vermont's largest annual storms now produce 35 percent more precipitation than in 1965. 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.

VPIRG offered special praise for the president's pledge to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. More than 3.2 million Americans submitted public comments last year in support of the president setting limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

"Carbon pollution from power plants is a huge part of the global warming problem. That's why we need not only to clean up the old plants burning dirty fossil fuels, but we need to build more clean energy plants that utilize renewable resources," said Burns. "The president's 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. But VPIRG is prepared to work with the vast majority of Vermonters who stand ready to assist the president in following through on this critical commitment."