Vermont lawmakers applaud EPA effort to reduce emissions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency, under the direction of President Obama, this week proposed new carbon emissions regulations on power plants across the country.
The new rules would mandate plants to reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, using 2005 emissions levels as the benchmark. This is the first time the federal government has attempted to regulate carbon emissions. According to EPA estimates, the regulations would target some 600 power plants across the nation.
The announcement came just weeks after the White House released a comprehensive climate change report, the National Climate Assessment. The report, the result of years of scholarship by hundreds of scientists, states without qualification that humans are causing climate change, and its effects are already being felt around the world.
Vermont’s Congressional delegation praised the Obama administration for stepping up its efforts to promote climate change.
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders welcomed this week’s announcement, but urged the White House to do more.
“Much more must be done to avoid a planetary crisis, but reducing emissions from dirty coal-fired power plants is a good step,” Sanders said.
Peter Welch, a Democrat and Vermont’s lone member of the House of Representatives, also expressed support for the new regulations.
“The EPA’s plan is a flexible, common sense approach to reducing power plant emissions that allows states and utilities to tailor remedies to local and regional circumstances,” Welch said.
Welch, who last month successfully shepherded energy efficiency legislation through Congress, said he was pleased the proposed regulations also promote energy efficiency. He added that climate change threatens the industries that Vermonters depend on.
“Climate change is real and poses a serious threat to our economy, environment and public health,” Welch said. “Vermont is not immune from its effects — just ask our farmers, sugarmakers and ski area operators.”
Fellow Democrat Patrick Leahy, the Senate pro tempore, echoed Welch’s sentiment.
“This historic step is not based on theory but on sound science and long experience with the effects of this major, unchecked source of pollution in communities across the nation,” Leahy said. “This is a tangible progress in turning the corner toward a healthier and more sustainable clean energy economy.”
Leahy urged his colleagues in Congress to approve the EPA proposal.
“The EPA is doing just what Congress and the Supreme Court has directed under the Clean Air Act: If a pollutant endangers public health and welfare, it must be limited,” Leahy said.
But while Leahy sees the new emissions regulations as a common-sense approach to combating climate change, he is at odds with many of his colleagues. Congressional Republicans have stated they do not believe the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon emissions.

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