Lawmakers from both parties vowed yesterday to pull out all the stops to block President Obama’s landmark rule to slash greenhouse gas emissions. But their supporters off Capitol Hill were privately grappling with a starker reality: No matter how many bills are introduced or appropriations riders floated, the regulatory process will march on unabated. “I’m kind of depressed,” said one Republican lobbyist who privately acknowledged that any effort to block the rule in Congress would be a “fool’s errand.”
President Obama’s new plan to fight climate change depends heavily on states’ devising individual approaches to meeting goals set in the nation’s capital, a strategy similar to the one he used to expand health care, often with rocky results. Rather than imposing a uniform standard for reducing power plant carbon emissions, the regulation unveiled on Monday offers the states flexibility to pick from a menu of policy options. But as with health care, the policy could lead to a patchwork of rules that frustrate businesses and invite resistance from states that oppose the policy.
Windmills do more than grind grain, and there’s a lot you may not know about wind energy. Here are six surprising facts to bring you back in the loop on one of America’s most promising energy opportunities.
Major targets for zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) deployment on the East and West coasts require consumer participation to become a reality, automakers are saying. California and Oregon, along with Massachusetts, New York and four other East Coast states, this week fleshed out their target of 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025, announced last October and detailed in an action plan yesterday. The plan calls for consumer incentives, like reduced tolls and access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes; more charging stations and lower barriers to finding them; rates for charging vehicles that are competitive with gasoline; and government- and company-backed ZEV fleets. The policies are intended to amplify the current upswing in electric vehicle purchases, bringing them from less than 1 percent of total sales today to 15 percent of new-car sales in the eight states by 2025.
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.