The report is part of the White House’s effort to increase public support for President Obama’s climate-change agenda, chiefly an Environmental Protection Agency proposal targeting coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of planet-warming pollution. The E.P.A. will hold public hearings, which are expected to be heated, on the proposal this week in Washington, Atlanta, Denver and Pittsburgh.The Koch brothers intend to send out their astroturf force—Americans for Prosperity—to demonstrate against the EPA's public hearings. Because Americans for Prosperity actually only really cares about the Koch brothers' prosperity, and not so much the entire U.S. economy.
The rule could lead to the shutdown of hundreds of power plants, a decline in domestic coal production, an increase in electricity rates and a fundamental transformation of the nation’s power supply. The White House has repeatedly sought to make the case that the long-term cost of not cutting carbon emissions—including longer droughts, worse floods and bigger wildfires that will damage homes, businesses and the nation’s infrastructure—will be higher than the short-term expense of carrying out the regulation.
Two new reports bolster the administration's case, and actually eclipse it in terms of the urgency of acting now, even a little bit. An international research team from Aarhus University in Denmark, Vermont Law School and CNA Corporation in the U.S. has determined that there will be a worldwide water shortage by 2040 if drastic action isn't taken soon to change how the world's power is produced. Currently, power generation is consuming untold—because it's not tracked—amounts of water which is necessary to keep systems cool. The only systems that don't require water are solar and wind. But we don't have to wait until 2040 for dire effects, the researchers find: by 2020—six years from now—30 to 40 percent of the world will no longer have access to clean drinking water.
The Kochs, of course, will always be able to buy whatever they need to subsist, even water. And they will always be able to maximize their private good by fighting government, so they surely won't be convinced by any of these arguments. But the policymakers who are responsible for the nation's future don't have that luxury.