Obama Energy Officials Defend Climate Plan to Republicans

Obama Officials Defend Climate Plan to House Republican Critics
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz visits Sandia Labs on Sept. 3, 2013. Photographer: Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal via AP Photo

Obama administration officials defended efforts to curb greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change as they faced questions from Republican Lawmakers about the costs of those policies.

Cutting energy demand, improving the resilience of the electric grid and improving the efficiency of appliances can both save money and help the environment, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce committee today.

“Common sense demands that we take action,” Moniz said. “As a policy issue, prudence suggests that we should take out an insurance policy, just like any family does on their home or automobile.”

Carbon-dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution have led to a warming of the Earth’s temperature in the past 50 years, worsening forest fires, drought and coastal flooding, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

To deal with the threat, President Barack Obama in June directed the Environmental Protection Agency to cap carbon pollution from power plants, which account for 40 percent of U.S. emissions. The first step is for the agency to issue rules for new plants, which are set to be released this week. The more contentious rules would govern emissions from existing plants.

McCarthy’s Timetable

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told the panel that the agency will issue the rules for existing plants by June of 2014.

Republican lawmakers complained today that regulations associated with Obama’s climate plan will lead coal-fired power plants to shutter, miners to be put out of work and energy costs to rise, endangering the American economy.

“The president’s global warming agenda being implemented through the EPA has been holding back the economy, which continues to struggle,” Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield, chairman of the Energy and Power subcommittee, said today. EPA’s rules coming this week will “have devastating effects on our communities and most importantly, the consumers who pay their electricity bills every month.”

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