Thune Decries Carbon Reduction Plan As Arctic Sea Route Opens

Aug 5, 2015

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) map of the polar ice cap on August 8th, 2015 shows open water in areas normally covered in sea ice.
Credit NSIDC

U.S. Senator John Thune joined the rest of the South Dakota congressional delegation and several industry groups in condemning a White House plan to reduce carbon emissions.

The Obama Administration is proposing a cap on carbon emissions from coal fired power plants in an effort to reduce global warming.   

The debate comes as arctic ice has melted back early enough so a sea route is open over the polar ice cap.

Those like U.S. Senator John Thune believe the Obama Administration effort to cap  emissions from coal fired power plants is going too far.  

“You get very little, minimal if any environmental benefit from the United States doing this when the largest polluters in the world aren’t following suit," says Thune.  "What it’s probably going to do is it’s going export energy production to areas around the world who have a lot less sensitive to and have a lot fewer environmental regulations in place." 

Thune says the carbon emissions cap hurts the economy more than it helps the environment.   But not all scientists see it this way.   Dr. Mark Serreze is the Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center with the University of Colorado at Boulder .   The organization tracks climate and sea ice changes around the world.  The NSIDC reports that arctic sea ice for July was below average and that a northern sea route is now open.    

“Climate change, global warming is here is here.  It’s going to continue to warm no matter what we do right now.   So we’re going to have to adapt.  But we need to get a handle on it before it becomes a real problem,” says Serreze.    

Serreze says it’s possible to argue that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions need to go even further.

“If you really want to put a dent in climate warming, global warming and keep it from getting to a point where it’s really going to cause problems, I think it’s easy to argue that this doesn’t go far enough," says Serreze.  "But, it is a start.  And, everything starts with step one.  So, this is something in a positive direction."  

Officials with the Obama administration say it’s time for the US to lead the rest of the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to deal with the real threat of climate change.