Environmental groups urge Obama to use ‘executive authority’ to fight climate change

Environmental groups are urging President Obama to use his executive authority to curb carbon emissions and address the issue of climate change.

“Use your executive authority,” reads a letter sent on Monday from nearly 70 environmental groups. “You have the authority under existing law to achieve urgently needed reductions in the carbon pollution that is disrupting our climate and damaging our health.”

The environmental groups, including the Working Families Party, argue that the president could significantly impact climate change by using the the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing authority under the Clean Air Act to set emissions standards for the country’s aging power plants.

The letter urges the president to cut carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020, while shifting to clean energy sources and promoting more energy efficiency.

“Power plants are our largest source of carbon pollution and you have the authority and responsibility to clean them up under the Clean Air Act,’ the letter reads. “This will create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs, meet the pollution targets you set for the country, and restore U.S. international leadership.”

The letter was released by the Natural Resources Defense Council and signed by prominent environmental groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club.

“It is the great challenge of our time and our response will leave an historic legacy,” the groups noted.

The NRDC previously urged the Obama administration to adopt emissions standards for existing power plants. The EPA has already proposed emissions standards for new power plants, but there are no standards for existing ones.