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Obama Steps Up Climate Protections With Clean Power Plan

Over the past month, President Barack Obama has announced several measures to help communities mitigate and adapt to climate change.
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President Barack Obama is stepping up efforts to combat climate change as he nears the end of his second and last term, with tribes among the beneficiaries of new policies and grants.

With the Clean Power Plan, announced on August 3, Obama targeted power plants and their emissions with a first-time-ever limit on carbon pollution.

The measures, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a statement, will reduce power plants’ sulfur dioxide emissions by 90 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 and nitrogen oxides by 72 percent.

“We’re proud to finalize our historic Clean Power Plan. It will give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve. The United States is leading by example today, showing the world that climate action is an incredible economic opportunity to build a stronger foundation for growth,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement. “The valuable feedback we received means the final Clean Power Plan is more ambitious yet more achievable, so states can customize plans to achieve their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses and utilities.”

To arrive at this final version of the plan, environmental officials sifted through more than 4.3 million public comments, the EPA said, as well as meeting with stakeholders to incorporate partnerships and to build upon existing strategies.

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The Clean Power Plan builds on previous initiatives announced by Obama that collectively aim to mitigate the effects of climate change on communities. The approach is twofold and involves making communities more resilient as well as preventing further deterioration.

In June several federal agencies got together on a joint initiative, to create partnerships across the country. The Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on June 24 announced the creation of the Resilient Lands and Waters partnerships: the California Headwaters, California’s North-Central Coast and Russian River Watershed, and Crown of the Continent. In April, on Earth Day, Obama had announced another set, the Resilient Landscape partnerships, during a tour of the Everglades.

"From the Redwoods to the Rockies to the Great Lakes and the Everglades, climate change threatens many of our treasured landscapes, which impacts our natural and cultural heritage, public health and economic activity," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in announcing those partnerships. “The key to making these areas more resilient is collaboration through sound science and partnerships that take a landscape-level approach to preparing for and adapting to climate change.”

But the issues go beyond scenery to water itself, one of the essential ingredients of life. Clean water is another component of the Obama Administration’s attempt at environmental preservation, and that was addressed in the President’s Clean Water Rule, issued in early July, when local business and the National Aquarium at the Inner Harbor in Maryland, alongside the EPA, discussed what made the new rules an economic boon.

“It’s important that we protect the quality of water in our lakes and rivers by ensuring that the streams and wetlands that feed them are protected,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin in a statement on July 8. “We need sufficient clean water for drinking water, recreation and to help our economy flourish with manufacturing, farming, tourism, and other economic sectors.”