Daily Video

June 3, 2014

Proposal to cut down greenhouse gas emissions draws criticism

As part of an effort to slow the process of climate change, President Obama and his administration recently announced a major new initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 645-page proposal requires coal-powered plants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, and allow states to meet low carbon emissions targets by shifting to wind and solar energy, or creating anti-pollution initiatives.
The EPA is a federal agency whose mission is “to protect human health and the environment.”

“This is not just about disappearing polar bears and melting icecaps. This is about protecting our health and it is about protecting our homes. This is about protecting local economies and it is about protecting jobs,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “This plan is all about flexibility. That’s what makes it ambitious, but also achievable. That’s how we keep our energy affordable and reliable.”

Critics of the plan doubt McCarthy’s claims, saying the initiative will put too much strain on businesses, hurting jobs and the economy in the process.

The president sought to allay these fears, saying, “We don’t have to choose between the health of our economy and the health of our children. The old rules may say we can’t protect our environment and promote economic growth at the same time, but, in America, we have always used new technology to break the old rules.”

Environmental groups largely welcomed the plan, but two West Virginia congressmen say they plan to introduce legislation that will stop the EPA from enforcing the new proposal.

Warm up questions
  1. What is coal, what is it used for?
  2. What are greenhouse gases? Why are they harmful for the environment?
Discussion questions
  1. What are some of the consequences of not dealing with greenhouse gas emissions?
  2. What are some alternative energy sources?
Writing prompt

The EPA has created a proposal that requires coal-powered plants to reduce their carbon emissions and is encouraging states to shift to alternative energy sources like wind and solar energy. Outline the risks and benefits for coal, wind and solar energy, choose what you believe is the best option and defend your answer with evidence from the video and text.

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