Today President Obama gave a speech on climate, and reminded the world that once we had a political consensus on the need to reduce pollution in our atmosphere.
Forty-three years ago, Congress passed a law called the Clean Air Act
of 1970. (Applause.) It was a good law. The reasoning behind it was
simple: New technology can protect our health by protecting the air we
breathe from harmful pollution. And that law passed the Senate
unanimously. Think about that — it passed the Senate unanimously. It
passed the House of Representatives 375 to 1. I don’t know who the one
guy was — I haven’t looked that up. (Laughter.) You can barely get
that many votes to name a post office these days. (Laughter.)
It was signed into law by a Republican President. It was later
strengthened by another Republican President. This used to be a
Six years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are
pollutants covered by that same Clean Air Act. (Applause.) And they
required the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, to determine
whether they’re a threat to our health and welfare. In 2009, the EPA
determined that they are a threat to both our health and our welfare in
many different ways — from dirtier air to more common heat waves —
and, therefore, subject to regulation.
Today, about 40 percent of America’s carbon pollution comes from our
power plants. But here’s the thing: Right now, there are no federal
limits to the amount of carbon pollution that those plants can pump into
our air. None. Zero. We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like
mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air or our water, but power plants
can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for
free. That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop.
It's a good argument, and polls support action. (From the Georgetown Climate Center [pdf]).
It's enough to make a person hopeful of change.