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Climate change is back on top of the president’s agenda. In a speech in late June, President Obama announced a plan to push forward his administration’s goals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions at new and existing power plants. With Congress divided, Obama is expected to tackle the issue through an executive order, though the exact rule details remain hazy.

What is clear — according to Michael Levi, energy and environment fellow and the Council on Foreign Relations — is the impact of natural gas abundance on the energy debate.

“The abundance of natural gas, along with falling costs for some other technologies, has made it a lot easier for people to see a path to ratchet down carbon emissions in the near term,” Levi says. “I’m not sure we’d be having the same conversation on the regulatory side had we not seen these significant changes.”

Exuberance over the natural gas boom — and its potential to displace coal — has been making headlines, but it’s not the whole story. Levi also sees a second transformation unfolding: the rise of cheaper renewables. But can these two energy revolutions work together?

Click on the audio player above to hear Michael Levi explain as he discusses his new book, “The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future.”


Scott Tong, Marketplace sustainability reporter and host of the Petro-State podcast, is off for a year of fellowship leave. You can follow him on Twitter @tongscott.

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