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Obama Releases Plan Outlining 17% Decrease in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sep 28, 2013 04:31 PM EDT

After repeatedly stating that a 17 percent reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2005 levels is still in reach, the Obama administration released a 30-page draft report Thursday detailing exactly how it plans on going about this.

The report lays out in greater detail the climate action plan President Barack Obama announced in June, and includes carbon limits on both new and existing power plants in addition to stricter energy efficiency standards, among other things.

Policies designed to boost solar and wind deployment are also included in the draft report, which will be submitted to the United Nations.

US emissions are currently down 6.8 percent compared to 2005, the report said; however, levels are expected to "rise gradually" throughout the rest of the decade should current policies remain in place.

Heather Zichal, the deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, said at forum held Wednesday at the Bipartisan Policy Center that the report would serve as "a benchmark" for other countries ahead of United Nations climate negotiations next year, The Washington Post reported.

According to Lou Leonard, the vice president for climate change at the World Wildlife Fund, the 17 percent reduction is possible, but only if the Obama administration "uses all the tools in its toolbox, and does so with ambition."

The president has yet to make a final decision regarding the XL Keystone Pipeline, which former NASA climate scientist James Hansen has called the "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet."

A report recently issued by the Sierra Club, Oil Change International and a score of other environmental groups argues that, if built, the pipeline designed to reach from Alberta, Canada to Texas would increase US greenhouse gas emissions by 181 million metric tons each year, or the yearly equivalent of building 51 new coal-fired power plants.

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