The President’s Climate Action Plan

On June 25, President Obama released the 21-page President’s Climate Action Plan, an outline of priorities and policy initiatives addressing the threat of climate change. The Plan stresses three courses of action:

• Cutting “carbon pollution” in the U.S.;
• Preparing the U.S. for climate change impacts; and
• Leading related international efforts.

The Plan references increasing reliance on “renewables”—naming solar, wind, and geothermal power repeatedly, and occasionally “biofuels,” and even nuclear power, but with only one actual reference to “biomass” as a feedstock. However, it places more emphasis on new energy efficiency programs, including an intention to “partner with industry leaders and other key stakeholders to develop post-2018 fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles,” as well as promotion of energy-efficient buildings.

A paragraph entitled “Preserving the Role of Forests in Mitigating Climate Change” references forests’ role in removing carbon from the atmosphere, noting “pressures to develop forest lands for urban or agricultural uses” as a threat, and identifying reduction of “wildfire risk,” and preserving forests’ non-commodity values, as a priority. The Plan does not explicitly advocate, or even acknowledge, the concept of carbon cycling within a carbon management program, beyond the ambiguous references to “renewables.”

Republicans, on the whole, took a dim view of the Plan. “These policies, rejected even by the last Democratic-controlled Congress, will shutter power plants, destroy good-paying American jobs, and raise electricity bills for families that can scarcely afford it,” commented House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).