President Obama will announce Tuesday he is planning to sidestep Congress to implement a national plan to combat climate change that will include the first-ever federal regulations on carbon dioxide emitted by existing power plants, despite adamant opposition from Republicans and some energy producers.
In a speech at Georgetown University Tuesday, Obama will announce he’s issuing a presidential memorandum to implement the regulations, meaning none of the steps involved in the plan will require congressional approval.
In addition, Obama will say he is directing his administration to allow enough renewables on public lands to power 6 million homes by 2020, effectively doubling the capacity from solar, wind and geothermal projects on federal property.
Obama also was to announce $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur investment in technologies that can keep carbon dioxide produced by power plants from being released into the atmosphere.
In taking action on his own, Obama is also signaling he will no longer wait for lawmakers to act on climate change, and instead will seek ways to work around them.
The linchpin of Obama’s plan, and the step activists say will have the most dramatic impact, involves limits on carbon emissions for new and existing power plants. The Obama administration has already proposed controls on new plants, but those controls have been delayed and not yet finalized.
Tuesday’s announcement will be the first public confirmation that Obama plans to extend carbon controls to coal-fired power plants that are currently pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
“This is the holy grail,” said Melinda Pierce of Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group. “That is the single biggest step he can take to help tackle carbon pollution.”
However, critics say that Obama’s changes will create more problems for America’s coal industry.
“This proposal will buttress an EPA proposed rule issued last year for new power plants that will essentially ban coal’s use in the future,” Tom Borelli, a senior fellow at FreedomWorks, told FoxNews.com.
Forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, and one-third of greenhouse gases overall, come from electric power plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical agency.
Obama is expected to lay out a broad vision Tuesday, without detailed emission targets or specifics about how they will be put in place. Instead, the president will launch a process in which the Environmental Protection Agency will work with states to develop specific plans to rein in carbon emissions, with flexibility for each state’s circumstances.