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The Clean Slate Agenda

The Obama administration has begun already acting on its energy plans. This after eight long years of Bush administration of inaction and obstructionism that left:

  • States without the authority to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Approximately 100 new, dirty coal plants, each emitting thousands of tons of CO2, on the drawing board across the country.
  • The U.S. without a commitment to strong CO2 reduction targets.
  • Mountaintop removal coal mining devastating Appalachian communities and contributing to global warming.

Executive Action by President Obama Can Make A Big Difference

We have identified four key actions the President can make -- independently of Congress-- that will enable the new Administration to start 2009 with a 'clean slate.'

The President has already made progress on the first action by directing his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to look into granting a waiver that will allow California and more than a dozen other states to limit global warming pollution from cars.

The three other actions we are asking the Obama administration to take are:

  • Ending the rush to build dirty coal plants by directing his EPA to require all new and existing power plants limit their global warming emissions.
  • Directing the EPA to end irresponsible mountaintop removal coal mining by stopping coal companies from dumping rock and waste into valleys and streams.
  • Restoring America’s international leadership in the fight to end global warming by publicly committing the U.S. to cut its CO2 emissions by at least 35 percent by 2020.

These policies will spur some of the actions long-delayed by the Bush administration, while jumpstarting a clean energy economy and reducing global-warming pollution.

More About the Clean Slate Agenda’s Four Key Actions

Granting the Clean Car Waiver
California has long been a leader in setting tough vehicle emissions standards, including setting the first standards to reduce tailpipe emissions of CO2 by 30% by 2016. Over a dozen states have followed or are following California’s lead but the Bush Administration’s EPA denied California the necessary waiver to implement these standards, blocking all the states from moving forward.  With so many states waiting to implement CO2 vehicle standards (and other states in the process of adopting them), the EPA should let states lead in protecting the health and welfare of their citizens.

Stopping the Coal Rush
There are approximately 100 new, dirty coal plants proposed around the country. These plants, if permitted and constructed, would emit more than 480 million tons of CO2 annually (about as much as 100 million cars) and would make it impossible for the incoming Administration to achieve meaningful CO2 reductions.

Already there are about 500 coal-fired power plants operating in the U.S. These existing plants are responsible for 2 billion tons of CO2 annually, making them the nation’s single largest source of global warming pollution. Existing coal fired power plants are also major contributors to soot, smog and mercury pollution, causing 25,000 premature deaths, 38,000 heart attacks, and 21,000 hospitalizations each year.

Ending Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining
On the campaign trail, President Obama pledged to address the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining. Obama can fulfill that commitment by restoring the original definition of ‘fill material’ under the Clean Water Act, which was weakened by the Bush Administration in 2002 in order to make it easier for coal companies to dump rock, debris, and other waste from mountaintop removal mines into valleys, burying streams. To date, coal companies in Appalachia have blown up 475 mountains and buried over 1,200 miles of streams with mountaintop removal coal mining. This coal provides approximately 4% of our nation’s electricity, a small percentage that could easily be supplied by conservation, efficiency, and clean energy.

Carbon Reduction Targets
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international scientific authority on global warming, has estimated that to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, developed nations must reduce their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 (this is equal to 35% below 2005 for the U.S.).  The goal would be achieved through a cap on carbon emissions and additional efforts to reduce emissions at home and abroad.  International efforts would include programs to end tropical deforestation, assist in sustainable development and help the world’s least developed countries adapt to the impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided.

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