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FACTBOX-Major steps by the Obama administration on climate change

Source: Reuters - Sun, 1 Jun 2014 11:00 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON, June 1 (Reuters) - On Monday, the Obama administration will release new rules regulating carbon pollution from existing U.S. power plants that run on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, a linchpin of his plans to tackle climate change.

Following are some key moments in President Barack Obama's efforts to address climate change:

PUSH FOR CAP-AND-TRADE

After campaigning on a promise to make the United States a global leader on climate issues, Obama pledged in his first inaugural address in January 2009 to "harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories." He asked Congress to pass cap-and-trade legislation that would place a market-based ceiling on carbon pollution and to boost U.S. renewable energy production.

COPENHAGEN TALKS

The president in December 2009 helped broker an interim agreement with the leaders of more than 20 countries, including China, India and Brazil, on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The accord provided ways to monitor emissions cuts by each country but set no deadline for a comprehensive binding accord. But the White House touted as progress the buy-in of China and other emerging economies.

HIGHER FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS

Obama in March 2010 unveiled higher fuel economy standards for cars and first-ever targets for trucks. Obama followed up in November 2011 a proposal to double auto fuel efficiency by 2025.

CLIMATE LEGISLATION FAILS

The House of Representatives in 2009, while controlled by Democrats, passed legislation that would curb emissions that scientists say lead to climate change, but the measure failed in the Senate. After Republicans gained control of the House in 2010 mid-term elections, the president conceded cap-and-trade legislation was dead, but said he would look for other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

RENEWED EFFORT AFTER RE-ELECTION

Obama in his 2013 State of the Union speech pointed to forest fires and devastating storms as evidence of the effects of climate change. He told Congress that if it would not act, he would take executive actions to reduce pollution, prepare communities for the consequences of climate change, and accelerate alternative energy use.

NAMES HIGH-PROFILE CLIMATE AIDES

Obama in March 2013 tapped Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy to lead the agency. McCarthy had overseen the drafting of some of the agency's toughest rules on emissions during Obama's first term while maintaining good working ties with states and industry. In December, the president tapped John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff who made climate change a priority issue while at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, to shepherd the rollout of the power plant regulations and help implement his climate agenda.

OUTLINES "CLIMATE ACTION PLAN"

Seeking to jumpstart what many saw as a stalled agenda, the president in June 2013 announced a "climate action plan." He promised to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants and block construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada if was found to contribute to climate change. He also pledged to renew efforts toward a global climate accord.

ISSUES RULES FOR NEW POWER PLANTS

The EPA in September 2013 unveiled the first of two major rules in Obama's climate action plan, dictating the amount of carbon pollution new power plants would be allowed to emit. The rules were seen as making it very difficult to build new coal-fired plants and were criticized by industry as raising costs prohibitively. (Reporting by Mark Felsenthal and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Caren Bohan, Ros Krasny and Marguerita Choy)

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