The EPA formally announced its new regulations Monday – which President Obama plans to enforce through executive actions – that will in theory lead to a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. The plan has already been met with stiff opposition including the Chamber of Commerce which said the new rules will costs $50 billion a year and kill 224,000 jobs.

But critics are now questioning whether the controversial plan should be so controversial given the past positions of Republican leaders. In 2008 Senator John McCain proposed an even more ambitious plan to tackle climate change and Newt Gingrich teamed up with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to endorse tough rules for carbon emissions.

And more to the point, the regulations will not prevent carbon going to dangerous levels.

The power plant regulations the Obama administration will announce today are far less ambitious than the proposal McCain offered in Oregon in 2008. They’re less ambitious than the proposals Newt Gingrich championed through the Aughts. They’re far less than what’s required to keep the rise in temperatures to two degrees Celsius.

Even if President Obama is able to overcome Republican opposition and enforce these rules – is this really a victory? If the plan does not actually stop climate change what good is it?

One also has to wonder if enforcing these rules is a compromise or pretext to smooth the path for authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline.