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Obama environment agenda draws praise in Adirondacks

NCPR
June 26, 2013

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Call this "environment week" for the Obama administration.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court announced that it will hear the administration's appeal of a lower court ruling that effectively blocked EPA rules designed to cut acid rain.

Then, on Tuesday, President Obama unveiled his plan to begin curtailing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

"Ninety-seven percent of scientists including by the way many who originally disputed the data have now put that to rest," the President said, addressing skeptics who have continued to question whether global warming is real.

"They've acknowledged that the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it. So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late."

These two developments drew praise this week from the Adirondack Council, a green group based in Elizabethtown that has worked for years on climate change and acid rain issues.

Brian Mann checked in with the Council's John Sheehan, who says the Obama administration's efforts to clean up major polluters in the Midwest could have real impacts here in the North Country.

So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late.

"The Clean Air Act amendments of 1990 did make some progress for us in reducing acid rain in the Adirondacks, but in order to stop the problem entirely we need the Cross State Air Pollution rule, which will make additional cuts in sulphur and nitrogen pollution from electric power plants. These cuts are relatively deep."

Sheehan says the rule, if implemented, would also improve human health in the Northeast, as smog and particular pollution is reduced.

Arguments in that case are expected to proceed before the Supreme Court in 2014.

Sheehan also praised the Obama administration for proposing new energy efficiency and carbon reduction programs, including a greenhouse gas pollution standard for power plants.

He argued that it makes sense for the White House and the EPA to move forward without waiting for lawmakers to approve new programs.

"Congress is not ready to take action," Sheehan said. "While individual members of Congress seem to understand what the issue is and what's at stake, we have not been able to get a critical mass involved in proposing legislation so far."

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