The greenhouse gas reductions required by the Obama administration’s proposed rule on power plants will not get the world to where it has to go to avert the worst consequences of climate change. But they are likely to be enormously beneficial: good for the nation’s health, good for technological innovation, good for President Obama’s credibility abroad, and, in time, good for the planet and future generations.Robert Redford writing at CNN:
The proposed rule — and the importance of this cannot be overstated — signals the end of an era in which polluters could dump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without penalty. It would set new emissions standards for America’s existing power plants, which generate 38 percent of the emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, and one-third of overall greenhouse gas emissions. The broad goal is to cut these emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. This means that many of the nation’s roughly 550 coal-fired power plants, which are much dirtier than plants powered by natural gas, will have to close or undergo expensive upgrades.
A recent analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (where I serve as a board member) found that putting these rules in place would be the equivalent of removing up to 130 million cars from our roads. At the same time, this approach would yield as much as $63 billion in health, air quality and clean water benefits -- numbers that far outweigh the costs of putting limits on carbon pollution.More reaction on President Obama's proposal below the fold.
That's why these new rules are a big deal -- the biggest step our country has ever taken on curbing carbon pollution. Demonstrating that kind of leadership could mark an important turning point in the global climate effort.
THE NEW regulations on power plant emissions announced yesterday by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency mark the nation’s first truly serious assault on climate change. [...]The Salt Lake Tribune:
Almost all credible reports suggest the world is passing the point where it can reverse, or eliminate, global warming. But that only means it’s more urgent than ever to push for historic carbon reductions. Nonetheless, many politicians — including the usual global-warming deniers and those from both parties in fossil-fuel-producing states — rushed to claim the new rules would cause steep economic damage. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of coal-state Kentucky laughably warned of a “unilateral dismantling of our own economic supremacy.” That’s refuted by the entire history of environmental protection, in which self-interested businesses and doomsayers predicted huge economic costs to the landmark clean-air and clean-water regulations of the ’70s, only to see more jobs created in the technology boom that followed the new regulations.
Like President Obama’s health care reforms, the EPA rules are being described — falsely — as a government overreach that will damage the economy and cost jobs. In fact, like the Affordable Care Act, the proposed rules are very free-market friendly in that they allow interested parties to choose any of a number of means to reduce carbon emissions. Not only that, the rules create an opportunity for those states and industries that are clever enough to grab it to not merely survive, but to prosper.The San Francisco Chronicle:
President Obama has just taken the boldest step the U.S. has ever taken to fight global warming. [...] Littles in Washington have been yelling. The EPA is preparing an analysis that will show that the benefits of its new rule will outweigh the cost, and, in California, we know that the sky won't fall. The big disaster would be doing nothing - so Obama should be applauded for this big step in the right direction.Brian Beutler:
For obvious reasons, Republicans want reporters to believe that the Obama administration's new proposal to regulate existing coal plants will be as politically damaging to Democrats as the Affordable Care Act was four years ago. They also, just as obviously, want Democrats to believe that. And to the extent that some coal state Democrats will oppose the EPA's plan, and may even vote to pre-empt it in Congress, they can marshal evidence that the issue divides Democrats and unites Republicans.Greg Sargent:
But anyone who buys into the assumption that these proposed rules will "rival the battle over health care" is making a big, obvious error, and another smaller one.
It’s true that some vulnerable Dems, particularly in coal states, will likely distance themselves from the new regulations. But as Politico reports today, Dems actually see the short term politics of this as “manageable.” Similarly, Dem strategists told me recently that Dems in tough races will have to deal with the issue but for a number of reasons the risks will largely turn out to be hyped.USA Today:
But the long game may matter a whole lot more. To understand how some Dems see this, look back at this Pew poll from last fall. It shows that the very voter groups who could continue giving Dems a demographic edge in national elections — the same groups that Republicans must broaden their appeal among — overwhelmingly believe there is solid evidence of global warming...
The history of environmental regulations has been that the biggest scare stories haven't panned out. Cleaner air and cleaner water have been achieved at manageable costs. But it's reasonable to conclude that the new regulations will cause electric rates to rise in some regions, particularly in coal-dependent states such as Kentucky, Wyoming, West Virginia, Indiana and North Dakota.Donna Brazille:
The administration's new pollution standards -- new Environmental Protection Agency regulations that place tough limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants -- are an answered prayer for working families. I'm talking about those many families who endured damaged homes or lost work hours from our more frequent, and more severe, extreme weather.The LA Times:
Dialing down air pollution is a gust of relief for a retiree without the luxury of air conditioning, who battles climbing temperatures and brutal heat waves. It's a breath of fresh air for every child playing in the shadow of a power plant, at risk from an asthma attack just by being outdoors.
The Obama administration's new effort to reduce carbon emissions from power plants is pragmatic, smart and overdue. Nevertheless, the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule is already coming under attack from those who argue that it is economic suicide to force expensive and unilateral changes in the power grid just to lower carbon emissions in the United States. Those critics would have U.S. utilities do nothing about global warming simply because their counterparts in other countries aren't doing enough. That reasoning is perverse and unpersuasive.Eugene Robinson:
Obama hopes that action by the United States, the richest country in the world, will make it possible for the other big carbon emitters to act. Some of the domestic critics who scoff at this notion also complain that Obama, in their view, does not sufficiently assert U.S. leadership around the globe. What do these people think leadership means, if not actually leading?Dana Milbank:
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy sounded like the sort of unflinching liberal that progressives had hoped Barack Obama would be.
Not only did McCarthy roll out a broad new rule Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent at existing power plants over 16 years, but she did so while ridiculing those on the other side. [...] McCarthy had a feistiness similar to that of her home-state Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whose populism has fired up progressives. As she bemoaned the critics using “the same tired play from the same special-interest playbook,” she paused for a digression. “In the ’60s — you remember the ’60s? Some of you do. I’m lucky enough — sort of.”
McCarthy’s words Monday contained a bit of the 1960s, a time before unapologetic idealism gave way to “all of the above.” Love McCarthy’s message or hate it, her honesty is refreshing.