Sanders pushes for carbon limits

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., last week professed his strong support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit carbon pollution as a way to slow global warming.
Sanders, who has long been outspoken on the issue of climate change, said he supports the agency’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030, using 2005 levels as a benchmark. He testified at one of several EPA public hearings last week.
Sanders, a member of the Senate Energy Committee, said Congress must not wait to address climate change.
“If we do not address this crisis, our children and grandchildren will look back on this problem and we will be judged by history in a very negative way,” he said.
The EPA’s push for carbon limits comes on the heels of the May release of a biennial government climate report, titled the National Climate Assessment, that predicted a grim future if current warming trends continue or exacerbate. The lengthy report found that the effects of climate change, such as higher temperatures and rising sea levels, are already being felt across the United States.
The carbon emissions limits are a key part of President Barack Obama’s climate action plan. Obama has made addressing climate change a priority of his second term. Sanders said the time to debate whether climate change exists or is caused by humans has long since passed.
“The vast majority of climate scientists agree that our planet is warming, that human activities, especially burning fossil fuels, are the primary cause, and that climate change already is causing devastating damage across the world,” Sanders said in a statement.
According to the EPA, power plants are the largest source of air pollution in this country, accounting for one third of all carbon emissions. The new emissions caps would affect coal-burning plants, which produce 39 percent of electricity in the U.S.
There are no coal-burning plants in Vermont, as there are no known coal reserves in New England. Sanders said Vermont will aggressively encourage development of alternative energy sources.
Climate change was the focus of an energy summit Sanders hosted at Middlebury College in May. Sen. Patrick Leahy, Rep. Peter Welch, Gov. Peter Shumlin and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz comprised the panel at the event, at the invitation of Sanders.
Moniz told the standing-room-only crowd at the summit that the federal government must encourage the use of low-carbon energy sources.
“Our strategy is called ‘All of the above;’ we start with the statement to go to low carbon,” Moniz said in May. “With that condition, we are investing across the board in what can be technologies to advance low carbon.”
As efforts to introduce carbon-cutting legislation in Congress have so far stalled, President Obama has directed the EPA to use its regulatory authority and existing law, such as the Clean Air Act, to reduce carbon pollution in the U.S.

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