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Obama Administration Proposes Carbon Pollution Standards for New Power Plants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed historic new limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. Carbon pollution fuels global warming, which leads to poor air quality that triggers asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. Scientists also predict that global warming will lead to more devastating floods, more deadly heat waves and the spread of infectious diseases. Coal-fired power plants are the largest single source of carbon pollution in the U.S., yet there are currently no federal limits on this pollution from power plants. The standard proposed today will correct that for new power plants by limiting their emissions of carbon pollution.
Nathan Willcox, Environment America’s federal global warming program director, issued the following statement in response to today’s announcement:
“Today’s proposal from the Obama administration is an historic step in protecting Americans’ health and our environment. By setting the first-ever standards for the largest source of the carbon pollution that fuels global warming, President Obama and EPA Administrator Jackson are standing up for Americans—and putting our health above the demands of the polluter lobby.
“Along with the steps being taken to cut other dangerous power plant pollutants such as soot, smog, mercury and other toxic pollutants and the new standards for fuel efficiency, these carbon pollution standards will mark historic progress in protecting our health, reducing waste and encouraging job creating innovation in the clean energy economy.
“Americans understand the value of clean air, and while the polluter lobby can be expected to trot out the same tired attacks and tactics, they won’t stop the progress and they will have to clean up their act.
“Now that standards have been proposed, we look forward to demonstrating the strong public support for clean air and healthy families, and to making sure that the proposed standards are finalized later this year. We also look forward to working with Administrator Jackson and EPA to address carbon pollution from existing power plants. The health and safety of current and future generations depends on us tackling this problem.
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A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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