President Obama will participate remotely in Monday’s rollout of one of the centerpieces of his second-term climate change agenda: U.S. EPA’s proposal to curb power plant carbon dioxide emissions. The president will be traveling in Europe but plans to participate in a call hosted by the American Lung Association and other health and medical organizations to emphasize why reducing CO2 emissions can help safeguard human health. “We’re excited to hear firsthand from the president about the proposal, and understand the public health benefits that are associated with it,” said Paul Billings, vice president of national policy and advocacy for ALA
The planned release Monday of U.S. EPA’s proposal for slashing heat-trapping emissions from existing power plants will shine a spotlight on how states will meet its mandate.
It’s going to be complicated. There’s no single starting line. Where a state begins will depend on its politics and power supply. And every one of them is concerned that the coming rule won’t fully protect its interests.
The next step in Obama’s regulatory plan for climate change will land Monday morning. Unlike the rule for future power plants, this proposal will be much further-reaching, an effort to scale down the source of 40 percent of the country’s climate warming gases by regulating the plants that are in operation today. According to the schedule set last year in the Climate Action Plan, EPA must release a final rule by June 2015. Once that happens, states have a year to submit plans to EPA for how they will comply with the rule.
It may force some states to overhaul their energy policies and could favor others that have taken a head start to establish climate policies. It could cause electricity prices to rise but could also change how the electric sector — from the power plant to the grid to the home or business — operates. One of the few certainties of this regulation: It will bring a lot of lawsuits.
“The shift to a cleaner-energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way,” Mr. Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, previewing Monday’s announcement. “But a low-carbon, clean-energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. America will build that engine. America will build the future, a future that’s cleaner, more prosperous and full of good jobs.” While the administration was still completing crucial elements of the plan, it was already clear that the economic stakes are enormous. The new regulations could eventually shutter hundreds of coal-fired power plants. Critics wasted little time arguing that the president’s unilateral plan abuses his power in a way that will cost jobs and raise energy prices for consumers.
President Obama raised the curtain this weekend on U.S. EPA’s new proposal for existing power plants’ carbon dioxide by making a public health plea, especially for children suffering from asthma and other respiratory illnesses. “Often, these illnesses are aggravated by air pollution — pollution from the same sources that release carbon and contribute to climate change,” the president said in a message taped Friday during a surprise visit to Washington, D.C.’s Children’s Hospital. “And for the sake of all our kids, we’ve got to do more to reduce it,” he said. The message was released Saturday ahead of this morning’s unveiling of the draft rule, which would limit emissions from the sector responsible for 40 percent of U.S. CO2.
Several bills introduced in the House yesterday aim to promote renewable energy development or address climate change, although it’s unlikely that any will be taken up soon in the GOP-controlled lower chamber. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) offered a pair of bills yesterday to extend clean energy tax breaks and reintroduced legislation to implement a cap-and-dividend program that has struggled to gain traction. Separately, a bipartisan pair sought to expand a tax credit for small-scale wind projects, although Congress remains stuck on broader tax debates amid procedural spats in both chambers. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) say their bill would help align a tax credit for distributed wind systems with the prevailing definition used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Eight states will offer buyer incentives, promote workplace charging and foster effective marketing, among other steps to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on their roads by 2025, under an implementation plan released today. By that point, the plan calls for 15 percent of all new vehicles sales in the participating states to be ZEVs. To lead by example, those states will require at least 25 percent of their own light-duty car and truck fleets to fall in the zero-emission category.
The furor yesterday over a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study on U.S. EPA’s upcoming proposal for existing power plant greenhouse gases has set the stage for what is likely to be a bitter struggle over the rule. The business group’s Center for 21st Century Energy — which has joined with the National Association of Manufacturers and others to oppose regulations they deem burdensome to industry — released a report yesterday arguing that the rule EPA will propose Monday would be an economic disaster, driving up power costs and slashing employment in all regions of the country, but falling hardest on the regions most dependent on coal (Greenwire, May 28).
A German wind energy company has chosen Estherville as the location for its North American headquarters, a local economic development group said today. The firm, windtest, will open the location this summer, the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corp. said in a statement. Based in Grevenbroich, Germany, windtest established the North American arm of the company, windtest north-america inc., earlier this year. The company will initially employ about five people with plans to hire up to 10 during the next few years, according to Iowa Lakes Corridor Development.
Gov. John Kasich plans to sign a controversial pullback on renewable-energy rules that passed the Ohio House yesterday. “After a lot of hard work, we’ve got a solid plan to examine the progress Ohio has made while also holding onto that progress,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement. He said the bill is a compromise between those who want to eliminate the energy rules and those who want no change. “It’s not what everyone wanted, which probably means we came down at the right spot,” he said. The bill passed the House 53-38, overcoming opposition from nearly all Democrats and some Republicans who said the measure will lead to job losses and an increase in air pollution.