United States President Barack Obama has threatened to use his Executive legal powers to reduce pollution, speed adoption of sustainable energy sources and prepare US communities for the consequences of climate change – responding to deliberate blockages of climate response measures at Congress.

Columbia University law professor Michael B. Gerrard has written an ‘expert analysis’ of the legal options open to President Obama – mainly via existing and potential regulations supervised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In the New York Law Journal No 49, released on 13 March 2013, Gerrard summarised these possible actions by the EPA:

> Enforce existing Clean Air Act requirements on air pollution by motor vehicles.

> Enforce new source performance standards for fossil-fuel fired electric power plants –moving to end operations of coal-fired plants.

> Introduce new regulations controlling methane and hydroflurocarbon emissions.

The United States has promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 – at least 17 percent below its 2005 levels. Independent climate and resources monitoring groups have said this could only be done if the Government adopted a ‘go-getter’ approach, rather than ‘lacklustre’ or ‘middle-of-the-road’ strategies.