Obama victory tempered by fears over Bush’s final policies

Environmental campaigners around the world have been filled with hopes of a greener America after Barack Obama emerged victorious in the US presidential election on Tuesday.

But amid the election fever, fears have emerged that the outgoing president will try to push through controversial and potentially damaging environmental legislation before he steps down.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a source close to George Bush’s administration said the President is moving to adopt rules that would loosen pollution controls on power plants.

The unnamed source told the paper that the new rules would begin judging the plants on their hourly rate of emissions rather than their total annual output.

This could make it easier for older power plants to extend their lifespan and upgrade without installing costly new equipment to reduce pollution.

In a speech following the election, President Bush said: “There’s important work to do in the months ahead, and I will continue to conduct the people’s business as long as this office remains in my trust.”

Meanwhile, campaigners across the globe urged the president-elect to make the environment a priority when he takes office in January.

A poll by US environmental group the Sierra Club showed that 50% of voters said energy issues were an important factor in the way they voted.

“It is clear that President-elect Obama has the mandate he needs to move forward with his plans for the clean energy future that will rebuild our economy,” said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club Political Director.

Making his victory speech, Obama listed climate change as one of the great threats of the 21st Century.

During the election campaign, he had proposed creating 5m new green collar jobs, ensuring 25% of electricity comes from renewable sources by 2025, and putting a million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015 (see related story).

In the UK, the Environmental Industries Commission warned that Obama’s plans would leave the UK trailing behind.

Chairman Adrian Wilkes said: “Government must back UK companies to seize the opportunity to lead the world in environmental technologies, or else millions of jobs that could have been created in the UK will go abroad to countries like the USA.”

Read more about Obama’s environmental and energy policies here.

Kate Martin

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