Today President Obama released his Climate Action Plan and highlighted the key components of the Plan at a speech at Georgetown University. The Plan has three primary goals: (i) cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S., (ii) preparing the United States for the effects of climate change, and (iii) leading international efforts to mitigate climate change. During his speech, President Obama listed three measures to address the first two goals: use more clean energy, waste less energy, and cut carbon emissions. The Plan includes some important new directives from the President, it incorporates some initiatives that are already underway and outlines some of the Administration’s intentions, without providing hard timelines or goals.
The Climate Action Plan is limited to initiatives that the President can implement without Congressional approval. Nevertheless, it has the potential to significantly affect a broad range of energy sector interests. A summary of the Plan’s key components follows.
Using more clean energy:
- The Interior Department is directed to support deployment of 10,000 MW of renewable energy on public lands by 2020.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) is directed to build 3,000 MW of renewable energy at military installations by 2025.
- Federal agencies will aim to install 100 MW of rooftop solar on federally-subsidized housing by 2020.
- The federal government commits to obtain 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
- The Red Rock Hydroelectric Plant, on the Des Moines River in Iowa, will be placed on the federal Infrastructure "Permitting Dashboard" for high-priority projects.
- Federal agencies will streamline the siting, permitting, and review process for transmission projects.
- The U.S. will seek a global agreement in the World Trade Organization modeled after the 2011 agreement among 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economies to reduce tariffs to 5% or less by 2015 on 54 environmental goods, including solar panels and wind turbines.
- The FY2014 budget will include $7.9 billion for clean energy research and development.
- The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America program will provide renewable energy and energy efficiency grants and loan guarantees directly to agricultural producers and rural small business.
- Natural gas will continue to be relied upon as a “transition fuel” while America works to develop an “even cleaner” energy economy.