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The president calls for a greener America

The Economist

Monday, August 3, 2015

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Blasting air conditioners, revving gas guzzlers and pumping oil, Americans have long attracted censure for their wasteful ways. After all, they produce a disproportionately large share—15 %—of global carbon dioxide emissions. But new rules from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced on August 3rd, signal a green shift in American policy. The Clean Power Plan introduces a raft of emission-reduction goals, tailored for each state, which the EPA believes will trigger a drop in carbon pollution from power stations by 870m tonnes by 2030, a 32% decline when measured against 2005 levels…

The new standards have been met with both fanfare and fury. Jennifer Macedonia from the Bipartisan Policy Centre, a think-tank, praises them for setting more realistic expectations for states and utilities, which now have an extra two years to prepare themselves. This reprieve creates “a better chance of reaching a long-term solution,” she says. Others see the dallying as a climb-down, and complain that cutting 2005 emissions by 32% by 2030 shows a pretty puny level of ambition, given that the boom in natural gas from shale—which is much cleaner than coal—has already reduced emissions by 15% in the past decade.