The Heart of the Matter

powerplantbanner_0The President announced his intention a year ago to cut American greenhouse gases from power plants.  The Climate Action Plan he unveiled in a comprehensive speech on June 25, 2013, was clear about his directive that EPA craft a rule to reduce carbon dioxide from existing power plants.  What’s the burden?  A good one third of our total greenhouse gas emissions come from the electricity sector and 75% of that comes from coal-fired plants.  Nearly one quarter of all American greenhouse gas emissions come from power made from burning coal.  It simply does not have to be that way.

The President gave us the general shape of things two days ago of what the new regulations will look like.  (See the video below.)  He highlighted the conventional air pollution and global warming impacts from our power sector.  He cited the recent National Climate Assessment that concluded, among other things, that “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.”  President Obama reminded us how special interests have consistently predicted economic doom whenever environmental regulations have been brought into being or tightened.  The doomsayers have always been wrong.  Paul Krugman, in fact, had an excellent column a few days ago debunking the Cassandras at the US Chamber of Commerce.

Another thing you’re going to hear from the coal companies and others is that if we cut back on these plants, America will “go dark.”  Utter piffle.  It’s the same damned lie we’ve been hearing for years.  We can have, and it’s been well documented, unlimited power from renewables.

What else is going to hold up progress on mitigating greenhouse gases?  An unending cannonade of litigation.  Well, so far, the courts have upheld every EPA action on curbing GHGs.  One decision characterized EPA’s actions as “unambiguously correct.”  Yeah, baby!  The Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision, recently upheld a key regulation, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, and the Court of Appeals also ruled that EPA’s regulation on mercury was “appropriate and necessary.”  An excellent post last week at Renewable Energy World detailed why There Are Good Reasons for Obama to be Confident on Carbon Rules.

Jobs?  In another post at Renewable Energy World, NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner lays out some of the enticing possibilities in the proposed new carbon regs.

EPA has a wealth of useful information here on its “Clean Power Plan” including fact sheets and in-depth looks into renewables, the health benefits of reducing power plant pollution, and how you can add to the public comment.  Or cut straight to President Obama giving his succinct explanation.


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