Obama Issues Bold Emissions Changes

Created: 06/02/2014 6:29 PM
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- With his executive authority, President Obama issued one of the most aggressive regulations to reduce carbon pollution in United States history. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a 30 percent cut of carbon levels from 2005 by 2013.
"It took a long time to get to this point," said Ray Schmitz, a Rochester resident and member of the Sierra Club, an environmental stewardship group.
On the skyline view in the backyard of Schmitz sits Rochester's Silver Lake Power Plant, which no longer burns coal for Rochester Public Utilities.
"A lot of the major utilities knew this was coming," said Schmitz.
Inside the Silver Lake Power Plant, there's only one boiler that's operating and it's powered by natural gas to provide steam for Mayo Clinic. Rochester Public Utilities retired the plant years ago in preparation for big changes like the one made Monday by the EPA.
"We see that things are coming down and there's going to be more regulation," said RPU Communications Coordinator Tony Benson.
By 2015, the Silver Lake Power Plant will be officially de-commissioned.
"That means no more burning of coal, which we actually ceased in November of 2013," said Benson.
However, opponents worry that if the country's 600 other coal-fired plants meet the same fate, it will cause massive job losses and create a void in the U.S. economy.
"Environmental regulations that are coming into effect will retire 60 percent of today's coal fleet," said Karen Harbert from the Energy Institute in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
But President Obama and environmental leaders celebrate this proposal as a monumental move towards clean and and long-term sustainability for public health and its cherished environment.
States will have three years to figure out a plan to comply with these potential standards. EPA officials say states can have their own plan for energy sources, depending on their topography or other specific circumstances.

Photo: ABC 6 News