- Associated Press - Monday, June 2, 2014

Obama orders big cuts in power plant pollution - but timing and impact of results uncertain

WASHINGTON (AP) - Taking aim at global warming, President Barack Obama introduced a politically charged plan Monday to order big and lasting cuts in the pollution discharged by America’s power plants. But the plan, though ambitious in scope, wouldn’t be fully realized until long after Obama’s successor took office and would generate only modest progress worldwide.

Obama’s proposal to force a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions, by the year 2030 from 2005 levels, drew immediate scorn from Republicans, industry groups and even a few Democrats who are facing fraught re-election campaigns in energy-dependent states. Environmental activists were split, with some hailing the plan and others calling it insufficiently strict to prevent the worst effects of global warming.

In all likelihood, the plan marks one of the most significant steps Obama will take to shape the country he governs during his final years in office. Stymied by Congress on nearly every front, Obama has turned to actions he can take on his own, but has found limited means to effect the type of sweeping change he has envisioned in his two campaigns.

The effort would cost up to $8.8 billion annually in 2030, the EPA projected. But the actual price is impossible to predict until states decide how to reach their targets - a process that will take years.

Obama, in a conference call with public health leaders, sought to head off critics who have argued the plan will kill jobs, drive up power bills and crush the economy in regions of the U.S.

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Pentagon concluded Bergdahl left his unit, but US still sought to free him - and split Taliban

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon concluded in 2010 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit, and after an initial flurry of searching the military curbed any high-risk rescue plans. But the U.S. kept pursuing avenues to negotiate his release, recently seeking to fracture the Taliban network by making its leaders fear a faster deal with underlings could prevent the freedom they sought for five of their top officials, American officials told The Associated Press.

The U.S. government kept tabs on Bergdahl’s whereabouts with spies, drones and satellites, even as it pursued off-and-on negotiations to get him back over the five years of captivity that ended on Saturday.

Bergdahl was in stable condition Monday at a U.S. military hospital in Germany, but questions mounted at home over the way his freedom was secured: Five high-level members of the Taliban were released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sent to Qatar. The five, who will have to stay in Qatar for a year before going back to Afghanistan, include former ministers in the Taliban government, commanders and one man who had direct ties to the late al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

A U.S. defense official familiar with efforts to free Bergdahl said the U.S. government had been working in recent months to split the Taliban network. Different U.S. agencies had floated several offers to the militants, and the Taliban leadership feared that underlings might cut a quick deal while they were working to free the five detainees at Guantanamo, said the official and a congressional aide, both of whom spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about efforts to release Bergdahl.

There was plenty of criticism about how the deal came about.

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

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