Grist: Never Mind the SOTU, Here’s What Obama Can Actually Do on Climate
1. EPA carbon standards for existing power plants.
This is the biggie — WRI says it alone can cover 48 percent of the gap. That’s assuming EPA is ambitious and Obama’s willing to stick his neck out a bit. The Natural Resources Defense Council has a proposal for how those rules can be flexible and ambitious, of which I’m a big fan.
2. Phaseout of certain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
WRI is encouraged by the administration’s efforts to amend the Montreal Protocol to further reduce HFCs, which not only harm the ozone layer but also contribute to climate change. While we’re waiting around for that international accord, however, WRI says EPA can just go ahead and phase them out domestically through the Clean Air Act. That would knock another 23 percent off the gap.
3. EPA standards to reduce methane from natural gas systems.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and EPA could regulate it as such. WRI gives this one 11 percent of the gap, but it seems like a bit of a wild card to me. There’s so little good data and studies on methane.
4. New appliance and equipment efficiency standards from the Department of Energy.
This is 8 percent of the gap.