WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Obama administration will unveil a major climate change plan Monday aimed at a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s coal-burning power plants, a senior administration official told CNN.
The “Clean Power Plan” is the final version of regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency, which President Barack Obama called “the biggest most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change,” in a video released by the White House on social media Saturday night.
The plan will call for a reduction power-sector carbon pollution of 32% from 2005 levels in 2030 — a 9% increase over the 2014 draft proposal, the official said. It will also call for a more aggressive transition to renewable energy.
“Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change,” Obama said in the video. “Until now, there have been no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution plants dump in the air.”
Even before the rule was announced, many states announced plans to fight it, including some vows to take the administration to court over the new rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged states not to comply with the plan in a letter to all 50 governors.
Critics also said that the plan will bring unwelcome increases in electricity prices.
“This plan is all pain and no gain,” said Luke Popovich, vice president of communications for the National Mining Association. “That’s why state leaders across the country are coming to the same conclusion — that we should not sacrifice our power system to an unworkable plan built on a faulty interpretation of the law.”
A multi-million dollar campaign backed by the energy industry has sought to debunk the science of climate change, but polls show most Americans believe the planet is warming.
Coal supplied 37% of U.S. electricity in 2012, compared to 30% from natural gas, 19% from nuclear power plants, 7% from hydropower sources such as dams and 5% from renewable sources such as wind and solar, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
EPA officials have conceded in the past that some of the dirtiest power plants now operating, such as older coal-fired plants, will end up shuttered as the nation shifts its reliance from traditional fossil fuel sources to cleaner alternatives.
Expecting a tough fight, the White House will launch, what it describes as an “all-out climate push” by the President and cabinet officials to fan out to sell the plan. In the next several weeks, Obama will travel to Nevada to speak at the National Clean Energy Summit and later become the first sitting President to go to the Alaskan Arctic.
The impending battle ahead could be seen as a major legacy issue for Obama as he transitions into the last quarter of his presidency.
“There are few issues more important to the president,” a senior administration official said, adding that Obama is likely to make the case that climate change is a moral, economic and national security obligation in the months ahead.
The news of the President’s plan was hailed on Sunday by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley.