File:Big Bend Power Station.jpg

On June 2nd the Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose “legally sound” guidelines for limiting carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act for existing power plants. The rules are anticipated to be enforced by executive action from President Obama, a move that is likely to infuriate Republican members of Congress.

Implementing proposed EPA rules could cut carbon emissions from the coal-fired plants by up to 20%. A considerable reduction given how ubiquitous coal is, even in 2014, to America’s energy system. Part of Obama’s plan is reportedly based on a cap-and-trade system that he was unable to pass through Congress.

The plan will, however, leave much of the administrative work to the states as to how to comply with national carbon reduction goals set by the White House.

People familiar with the rule say that it will set a national limit on carbon pollution from coal plants, but that it will allow each state to come up with its own plan to cut emissions based on a menu of options that include adding wind and solar power, energy-efficiency technology and creating or joining state cap-and-trade programs. Cap-and-trade programs are effectively carbon taxes that place a limit on carbon pollution and create markets for buying and selling government-issued pollution permits.

Cue right-wing fury.

The US Chamber of Commerce, preempting the official announcement of both the EPA rules and Obama Administration’s actions, has issued a report blasting the plan. The report claims, with questionable evidence, that the new rules will cause $50 billion of economic losses each year including 224,000 lost jobs. A charge that will surely panic Democrats running for re-election this year as well as serve as fodder for attacks by Republicans.

President Obama’s proposal is set to be announced Monday with Obama already defining the stakes in his West Point speech yesterday. In the speech he claimed climate change was a national security issue and promised to take action.

Better late than never?

Photo by Wknight94 under Creative Commons license.