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President Obama Unveils New Power Plant Rules In 'Clean Power Plan'

President Obama delivers remarks at a Clean Power Plan event at the White House on Monday.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

President Obama formally unveiled his plan to cut power plant emissions — some two years in the making — calling it the "single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change."

Speaking at the White House, the president said the plan includes the first-ever Environmental Protection Agency standards on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. Over the next few years, each state will have the chance to create its own plan, he said, adding: "We'll reward the states that take action sooner."

Toward the end of his remarks, Obama cited other environmental issues, such as combating acid rain, where efforts have been successful even though it seemed hard at the time.

"We can figure this stuff out, as long as we're not lazy about it," he said.

The president compared the requirement of cutting carbon emissions by 32 percent to taking 166 million cars off the road.

Our original post continues:

In a new push to confront climate change, President Obama is announcing new standards that would cut the amount of carbon pollution produced by America's power plants.

"These are the first-ever national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants," according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which adds that power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., generating 32 percent of the total emissions.

Key elements of the Clean Power Plan include a requirement that would cut the power industry's carbon pollution by 32 percent below 2005 levels in the next 15 years. The plan also seeks to boost renewable energy.

The White House says that between now and 2015, the changes will mean better health for Americans — preventing up to 3,600 premature deaths — along with bringing energy savings for U.S. consumers.

You can read the plan at the Environmental Protection Agency's website.

NPR's Scott Horsley reports:

"The final version of the EPA's clean power plan requires somewhat deeper cuts in power plant emissions than a draft version made public a year ago. The power plant rule is the centerpiece of President Obama's broader climate agenda. And he's urging other big countries to take similarly aggressive action in advance of an international climate summit in Paris later this year.

"Opponents, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, have promised to fight the climate rule, and they're urging states not to comply with the EPA regulation.

"The final rule does provide a somewhat more flexible timeline for power companies, with the deadline for action pushed back two years to 2022."

The president is announcing the plan along with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

In announcing the plan Monday, the EPA also said, "2014 was the hottest year in recorded history, and 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the first 15 years of this century."

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