WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Cutting America’s carbon footprint to lessen the impact of climate change is going to be a challenge for states.

Alex DeMetrick reports on where Maryland is in meeting President Obama’s tougher goals.

Coal is the fuel that makes most of this country’s electricity.

But burning it to make steam to turn generators also produces carbon dioxide–a major greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, melting polar ice and glaciers as the Earth’s climate warms.

President Obama is pledging the U.S. will do its part by reducing carbon pollution.

“We’ll be keeping 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere,” he said.

How? Obama is ordering a 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Meanwhile, wind and solar power will rise from five percent as an energy source to 28 percent.

Can Maryland do it?

“The state of Maryland’s in pretty good shape,” said Mike Tidwell, who heads the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and is optimistic. “We’ve passed a number of pieces of legislation that make it much easier for Maryland to conform to the federal plan.”

Among the legislation was a law passed in 2009, mandating a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.

At the same time, there’s been a 15 percent reduction in energy consumption due to state incentives.

It’s a head start on Obama’s 32 percent reduction.

“We’re already well on course to actually exceed those numbers,” Tidwell said.

Congressional Republicans and the coal industry oppose the President’s plan, backed up by conservative think-tanks.

“Because energy is such a staple for everything we produce and consume, those costs are going to ripple through the economy. So it’s not just when your energy bill comes,” said Nic Loris, an economist with the Heritage Foundation.

A debate that’s sure to generate its own heat.

Dozens of states say they will challenge the president’s carbon goals in court. The Hogan administration is withholding judgment for now.

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