President Obama Unveils Tough Clean Energy Plan

President Obama unveiled his new tough clean energy plan Monday which places new emissions standards on energy plants. ABC News' Karen Travers reports.
32:22 | 08/03/15

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Transcript for President Obama Unveils Tough Clean Energy Plan
Right now President Obama effect to unveil his historical clean energy plan to America. The top plan already facing strong opposition from lawmakers and the energy industry as the plan takes aim at power plants calling for mandatory reductions on carbon emissions. Hi everyone I'm Caroline Costello in New York ahead of today's roll out the White House releasing a preview of the plan on social media accountable promoted. And fuel to critics some saying it'll have devastating consequences. On the US economy the BBC's David Chapman reports. Climate has changed with one bold video President Obama has taken the gloves off of the global warming this as an opinion it's fact. The scientific consensus is overwhelming he says greenhouse gas is of warming the percent. For decades American was accused of dragging its feet in a climate change not in a major shift. The White House is bypassing its critics in congress enough to curbing other forms of pollution. Called an. His next court but existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air we breathe. If you believe like I that we can't condemn mark kids and grandkids to a planet that's beyond fixed. I'm asking you to assure this message was referenced them. His target his co. Blasted out of the mountains that defused fossil fuel. Burning coal in power stations release is huge amounts of carbon dioxide. The energy companies now have fifteen years to cult that pollution bust the best fighting back. Electricity from coal has been run our economic progress. They also used idiots and they will be Obama planned stops. The biggest losers of this plan. Is not going to be the coal industry that we represent more Fossil Energy producers. It's going to be the American consumers because they're going to have to pay more. So this plan for clean pollen may face a rocky ride at hand but will good done well internationally. Because at the moment America pumps out so much carbon dioxide. Who led China is the world's largest to mr. releasing nearly ten billion tons in 2013. America is second with more than fine billion tons. But as the biggest economy the US has long been under pressure to take believes in costing those greenhouse gases. So this should help us summit on climate change. Coming up in Paris in the end of the year the UN wants a global deal that. And all eyes will be on President Obama to see if he can deliver what he's promising today. What Obama's decision has done is to make the mood music much stronger in relation to past make people feel that the world is pulling together. And therefore nobody will really want to be left eye. Everything hinges on whether renewable time can fill that gap that'll be left if Cole is phased out it's a political risk. The clearly the president feels. It's the right time to take it. David shipman BBC news. And right now President Obama pitching his new clean energy plan through the country. Well our atmosphere. Are higher than they've been an 800000 years. 2014 was the planet's warmest year on record. And we've been setting a lot of records in terms of warmest years. Over the last Beckett. One year doesn't make a trend. But fourteen of the fifteen warmest years on record have fallen within the first fifteen years of the center. Climate change is no longer just about. The future there were predicting for our children our grandchildren. About the reality that we're living with every day right now. The Pentagon says. The climate change poses an immediate risks to our national secured. While we can't say any single weather event is entirely caused by climate change. We've seen stronger storms. Deeper droughts. Longer wild horses. Charleston and Miami now flawed at high tide. Shrinking ice caps force National Geographic to make. The biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart. Over the past three deckers. Nationwide and asthma rates have more than double. And climate change puts those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital. As one of America's governors is said. We're the first generation to feel. The impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about. And that's why I committed the United States to leading the world on this challenge. Because I believe there is such a thing as being too like. Most of the issues that I deal with a deal with some tough issues. The crossed my best by definition. I don't BO what measures if there reason to solve the somebody else's artist sol. And some of them are Graham. Some other more heartbreaking some of them are part some of them are frustrated. But most of the time. The issues we deal whether or ones that. Our temple league mound and we can anticipate. Things getting better if we just got to plug where. Even incremental it. But this is one of those rare issues. Because of its magnitude. Because of its scroll. That if we don't get it right. We may not be able to reverse. And we may not be able to adapt. Sufficiently. There is such a thing as being too late. When it comes to climate change. And that does. That should make us hopeless if it's not. As if there's nothing we can do about. We can take action. Or the past several years America has been working to use less dirty energy more clean energy waste less energy throughout our economy. We set new fuel economy standards that meet our cars will vote twice as far on a gallon gas by the middle the next Beckett. Combined with lower gas prices these standards are on pace to save drivers an average of 700 dollars a pop this year. We double down on our investment in her noble letter. We're generating three times as much when power twenty times as much solar power as wee bit. In 2008. These steps are making a difference. Over the past decade even as our economy has continued to grow the United States has cut our total carbon pollution. More than any other nation on earth. For good. But I am here to say that if we want to protect our economy and our security and our children's health. We're gonna have to do more. The science tells us. We have to do more. There's been our focus these past six years. And it's particularly going to be our focus this month. In the battle later in August all talk about the extraordinary progress we've made in generating clean edge and the jobs that come with it and how we can. Moose that even further. Also be read first American president to visit. The Alaskan arc where our fellow Americans have already seen their communities devastated by melting ice and rising oceans. The impact on marine life. We're to talk about what the world needs to do together. To prevent the worst impacts of climate change reports to. And today we're here to announce. America's clean power plant a plan. Two years on the make in the single most important step but America has ever taken in the fight against global climate change. Right now our power plants. Are the source about a third of America's carbon pollution. It's more pollution than our cars or airplanes and our homes generate combined. That pollution contributes to climate change which degrades the air our kids free. There have never been federal limits on the amount of carbon that power plants can dump into the air think about that. We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like Mercury. And soul for an arsenic in our air or water. And we're better off for. But existing power plants can still don't unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into via. For the sake of our kids and health and safety of all Americans that has to change. For the sake of a planet that has to change. Two years ago I directed. Gina and Environmental Protection Agency to take on this trail. And today after working with the states and cities and power companies. The EPA is setting the first ever nationwide standards. And the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants. Here's how it works. Over the next few years each state will have the chance to put together. Its own plan for reducing emissions because every state has ever mattered humans. Some generate more power former nobles some natural gas. Nuclear or coal. This plan reflects the fact that not everybody's starting in the same place. So we're giving states the time and the flexibility they need. To cut pollution in a way that works for them. And will reward the states to take action sooner instead of light because time is not on our side. As states worked to meet their targets they can build on the progress of our communities and businesses are already make. Lot of power company's board begun modernizing the plants reducing their emissions. And by the way creating new jobs in the process. Nearly a dozen states parties set up their own market based programs to reduce carbon pollution. About half our State's upset energy efficiency targets. More than 35 upset renewable energy targets. Over a thousand mayors have signed an agreement to cut carbon pollution in their service. And last week thirteen of our biggest companies including don't UPS. And Wal-Mart and GM. Made bold new commitments to cut their emissions and deploy more clean edge. So the idea of setting standards and cutting carbon pollution is not new it's not radical. What is new is that starting today. Washington to start to catch up where. The vision of the rest of the country. And by setting these standards we can actually speed up our transition to a cleaner safer future. We'll just clean power plant by 2030. Carbon pollution from our power plants will be 32% lower but it was a decade ago. And nerd or your way to say that is that will be keep them 870. Million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our hands. The simpler layman's way of saying that as it's like cutting. Every ounce of admission due to electricity from a hundred Nate knowing in American homes. Or through equivalent taking a 166 million cars off below. Much warning thirty. We will reduce premature deaths from power plant emissions by nearly 90%. And thanks to this plan there will be 90000 fewer asthma attacks among our children each year. Why do. Mining bests with greater investment in our booming clean energy sector and smarter investments in energy efficiency. By working with the world to achieve a climate agreement by the end of this year. We can do more to slow and maybe even eventually stop the carbon pollution that's doing so much harm tore climb. So this is the right thing to do. I want to thank again Gina and her team for doing at the right way. Over the longest. Engagement process and EPA history. Bay it fielded more than four million public commons. They worked with states they worked with power companies and environmental groups and faith groups and people across our country. To make sure that what we're doing what's realistic. And achievable. But still. Ambitious. Some of those people were Willis here today. So talk to brown either way if it is time. Tiger brown. Has joined up with moms across America to spread the word about the dangers climate change post through the health of our children including. Tiger's daughter. Some act. Incidently. Doctor smears Cotchery has spent her career researching the health impacts of pollution at the Cleveland clinic. And helping families whose. Lives are impacted. Every single day dot. Thank you. Sister Joan Marie Steadman has helped rally Catholic women across American attack on climate system thank you so much for your leadership. And she's got a pretty important data side. As Pope Francis made clear in news. In and cyclical this summer. Taking a stand against climate change is in moral obligation. And sis system is living up to that obligation ever singled. Now but let's be clear. There will be critics of what we're trying to do. There will be cynics. Could say it cannot be done. Long before the details this clean power plant where even decided. The special interest and their allies in congress were already mobilizing proposal and everything they've got. There will claim that this plan will cost you money. Even though this plan the analysis shows will ultimately save the average American nearly five dollars a year on their energy bills. No claim we need to slash our investments in clean out of the waste of money. Even though they're happy to spend billions of dollars a year in subsidizing oil companies. They'll plant this plant will kill jobs. Even though our transition to a cleaner energy economy. Has the solar industry just name one example creating jobs ten times faster than the rest of your com. No claimants plan is a war on coal. To secure votes. Even as very ignore my plan to actually invest. In revitalizing cold comfort and supporting health care retirement for coal miners and their families. And retraining those workers for better paying jobs. And help your jobs. Communities across America been losing coal jobs for decades. I want to work with congress to help that. Not to use them as a political football. Partisan press releases are Gunner help those families. Even more cynical that we got critics of this plan. For actually claiming to those who harm minority and low income community is. Even bulk climate change hurts. Those Americans the most were the most vulnerable. Today I'm African American child has more than twice as likely to be hospitalized for mass. A lot you know jobs 40% more likely to die for mass. If you care about low income minority communities start protecting the air they breathe and stop trying to. Okay. You go also expand Medicaid and states by the way. Here's the but. We've heard these same stale arguments before it every time American made progress. It's bad despite. These consequence. Whatever America is set clear rules and smarter standards for air or water our children's health. We get a same scary stories about killing jobs and businesses and freed. It's that that's that's true. A move off script here just for a second the I could because it is important because sometimes I think we feel as if there's nothing we can do what. To mark my birthday. So I'm sorry to reflect on on age. And and an in thinking about what we're doing your today I was reminded of landing in Los Angeles. To attend a college as a freshman as an eighteen year old. And it was. Late August. As I was moving from wired. And I got. To the campus and I decided. Lot of pent up Saturday don't want to go take a run and after about five minutes suddenly had this weird feeling like I couldn't breed. And the reason was back in nineteen set in. Los Angeles still was. So forced long. That. There were days where people who were vulnerable just could not go outside and there were fairly frequent. And folks who. Are older than me can remember. The coyote rigor river. Didn't burning. Because of pollution. And acid rain threatening to destroyed. All the great force of the of the northeast. And you fast forward. 34 years later. And we saw all those problems. But at the time. Those same characters. Who are going to be criticizing this plan. Were saying this is gonna kill jobs. There's good news for businesses. There are hurt low income people. It's going to be wildly expensive at each time they were wrong. And because we pushed through despite. Those scare mongering tactics. You can actually run in Los Angeles. And what are choking. And folks. Can actually take bow down on the river. And those forests are there. To a gonna learn lessons we've got to know our history. The kinds of criticisms that you're right here. Are simply excuses for an action. They're not even good business sense. Under estimate American business. And American engine note. In 1970 when Republican president Richard Nixon decide to do something about the smog was strong our cities. They learned that the new pollution standards would decimate the auto industry it didn't happen catalytic converters worked. They can lead out of gasoline worked. Our air got cleaner. In 1990 when Republican president George H. W. Bush decided to sign about acid rain said the build up our likes would go off. This is would suffer a quiet that. It didn't happen we cut acid rain dramatically at a cost much less than anybody expected because businesses. Once and sodomized were able to figure out. When we restricted led leaded fuel in our cars. Cancer causing chemicals and plastics it didn't and the oil industry have been and the plastics industry. American chemist came up we better substance. The fuel standards we put in place a couple of years ago and cripple auto makers the American auto industry retool. Today our auto makers are selling the best. Cardinal world at a faster pace than they have an almost a decade they've got more hybrids and more plug ins and more hyped high fuel efficient cars. Giving consumers more choice than ever before and saving families at the pump. We can figure this stuff out. As longs were not lazy about it. Mom we don't take the path of least resistance. Scientists services workers option for north together as Americans. We. Disrupt those stale debates up and the old ways affected. Right now we're inventing a whole new technologies whole new industries not. Looking backwards where looking forwards. And if we don't do what nobody will. The only reason of China is now looking at. Getting serious about its emissions because they saw that we were going to do it took me. It. When the world. When the world faces its toughest challenges America leads the way forward that's what this plan of the back. And I don't want to I want. I don't want a four year. This is going to be hard. Dealing with climate change. In its entirety it's challenging. No single action no single country. Will change. The warming the planet on its own. But today what America leading the way countries representing 70%. Of the carbon pollution from the world's energy sector have announced plans to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. In December would America leading the way we have a chance to put in place one of the most ambitious. International climate agreements in human history. And it's easy to be sent and to say climate change the kind of challenge is just too big for humanities all IA. Absolutely convinced that's what. We can solve this thing. But we have to Google. It's exactly the kind of challenge that's big enough. To remind us that we're all in this together. Last month for the first time since 1972. NASA released a blue marble the single snapshot of the earth taken from outer space. And so much has changed in the decades between that first picture and the second. Borders of shifted generations of come and gone. Or global population has nearly doubled. But one thing hasn't changed our our planet is as beautiful as ever. It still looks blue. And it's is vast but also is fragile. As. Miraculous as anything in this universe. The blue marble. Belongs to all of us. Long stood these kids who are here. They're more than seven billion people alive today. No matter what country they're from no matter what language they speak. Every one of them can look at this image and say that's my home. And were the first generation to field what impact of climate change. Where the last generation. The can do something about it we only get one home. We only get one planet. There's no plan B. I don't want my grandkids not to be alert. Swim. In a YA. Or not to be able or climb a mountain and and see a glacier. Because we didn't do something about. I don't want millions of people's lives disrupted and as world more dangerous because we didn't do something about it. I'd be shameful of us. Is our moment to get this right. Me some of the better Perkins. Let's make most of that opportune. Thank your by god blessed. Don't look nothing. And Obama unveiling how environmental regulation. To reduce pollution from the country's power plants the strongest action and were taking. In the US combat climate change with training since Karen Travers now for you've been following the storm force from Washington. Karen the president wants to reduce carbon emissions. By 32%. From 2005 levels to in the year 2030 by the year when he thirty breakdown for us how this plan would do that. This is more aggressive than what the EPA announced around this time last year there was a yearlong review process and last year it was only 30%. Today the president saying 32%. Reduction in carbon emissions from power plants and the reason they're going after these power plants is because they say they account for a third of the US carbon pollution. President said today that's more than cars and homes and businesses combined. So this is a prime target here is not gonna work every state has a couple years to submit their plans for how they're going to go about this. If they don't do that because some states right now say they're resisting they're not happy about this especially states with Republican governors states that are coal producing states. They can opt to not do it well then what happens is the federal government will do it for them to have a couple more years after that to put those targets in place. So the Obama administration is saying we're giving you some flexibility come up with your own dean plan with a framework that we put out. And figure out how you gonna do this but if you don't come up one for you. And Obama warns. A lot of his speech dedicated to warning against the argument that his critics. Why is there so much opposition in what is the main argument. Of all the opponents of the plan. Caroline no surprise that criticism is coming from business groups from Republicans and even some Democrats on Capitol Hill who are from coal producing states West Virginia. Kentucky places in those parts of the country. There is saying that this is going to do is decimate the coal industry the president today took on those critics had on hits remarkable you gotta love and a president says many go off script here a little bit as you know that's when the good stuff is coming. And he said this is just not wait to go about this he's at the critics are always raising issues even before the plan was announced. Yet when this came out last summer we spoke with people on the other side of this from the US chamber of commerce energy institute. They said they're very concerned it will kill Johns it will kill the economy. It will raise individual American families energy costs today the president without getting into a lighted each other just went through it said no no no this actually bring down your cost. The solar power industry is creating jobs the coal industry is not. And the administration wants to help those states that are relying on call to shift to more renewable sources of energy. Hank Aaron opponents are already gearing up and that's fine and number of states already filing lawsuits. Lawsuits are certainly expected in this they are not wasting any time and you know if that presidents. Proposal makes it through those lawsuits and yelling the process. This will go into effect over the next couple of years but. The opponents to this had been gearing up for this for years that the president said this one of the longest review processes the EPA's ever done. His administration has been working on this for years so. Not a surprise that this was coming some of the deet tails today though when a little bit further than we're expecting from the administration last year. In Karen last month the Supreme Court blocked Obama's. Limits on power plants talk about. That Supreme Court decision and how. The plan unveiled today is related to not plan how it is all and I'm linked together. Eight and this is interesting in 2007 there's a Supreme Court case that said that carbon backside was a polluted and that's why the federal government is allowed to even do this in the first place. The president said though there have been no restrictions right now on what these states. Where they both sit in the so they went to put these limitations in place is the first time this has happened so far it's been completely limit list. The president saying the administration is trying to work around with what was down through Supreme Court before. And put this out and also leaving states the flexibility to come up with the way there and do this summer on. If you've Karen congress following the story for us from Washington Karen thank you. He can keep up with this story in real time my gambling ABC news staff and storing the story for exclusive updates on the go I'm Caroline Costello in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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