A "free pass to pollute."
That's what environmental advocates say the Obama administration's new rules, announced Wednesday, give the nation's gas-burning power plants.
“If the EPA is serious about the climate crisis, it needs to be serious about reducing greenhouse pollution from all power plants — regardless of whether they are fueled by gas or coal." –Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity
In addition, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, the framework contained in the Environmental Protection Agency's guidelines are in direct contradiction to bold promises the president has made regarding the worsening climate change crisis.
“The EPA’s lax standards for gas-fired power plants contradict President Obama’s strong statements about the urgent need to cut carbon and other greenhouse pollution,” said Bill Snape, the Center’s senior counsel in a statement. “The president has rightly said we must find the courage to fight climate change before it’s too late to act. But his administration’s weak natural gas power-plant rules are a huge missed opportunity to fight the pollution that’s warming our planet and pushing us toward climate chaos.”
The new EPA standards push for new plants to have tighter emission controls, but make no demands that existing gas-fired plants need to install proven reduction technologies. President Obama has been roundly criticized for his friendly stance on natural gas even as studies suggest that the global warming impact from fracking and processing of natural gas may equal or exceed that of coal.
Despite warnings from science, Obama has joined those claiming that the current natural gas boom in the United States is part of the solution to global warming. Among the evidence contradicting that view, a Harvard University study published last month confirmed that methane emissions produced by the fracking process are much higher than the industry generally claims.
Daniel Kessler, a climate campaigner with 350.org, said that Obama would be "wise to look at the Harvard study with great care " and recognize that "the only sensible option available" when it comes to addressing climate change is thise: "leave the gas in the ground."
Though the new EPA rules take a tougher stance on coal, Snape and his colleagues say that "free pass" given to the gas industry is a direct assault on the planet because the "lax natural gas rules could lock the United States into continued reliance on fossil fuels for decades, contradicting the president’s vision of quick action on climate change."
“If the EPA is serious about the climate crisis, it needs to be serious about reducing greenhouse pollution from all power plants — regardless of whether they are fueled by gas or coal,” Snape said. “Lackluster pollution-control rules don’t just imperil the president’s legacy, they endanger our entire planet. The bottom line is that we can do better."