Unable to get cap and trade through Congress, President Obama has settled
for just the cap via regulation by the EPA. Today, his EPA will issue new
limits on the amount of CO2 which can be produced by new
power plants -- and they may shut down coal plants altogether:
The proposed rule - years in the making and approved by the
White House after months of review - will require any new power plant to
emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity
produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds
of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of
1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.
One industry lawyer notes that by taking coal off the table via regulation,
Obama has undercut his "all of the above" rhetoric on energy:
"This standard effectively bans new coal plants," said Joseph
Stanko, who heads government relations at the law firm Hunton and Williams
and represents several utility companies. "So I don't see how that is an
'all of the above' energy policy."
In January 2008, candidate Obama told reporters he would take this path if
elected President. He was speaking of a cap and trade system at the time,
but today's move by the EPA is effectively a cap without the trade portion
of the system:
If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant they can. It's
just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge
sum for all that greenhouse gas that's going to be emitted...
The point is, if we set rigorous standards for the allowable emissions, then
we can allow the market to determine and technology and entrepreneurs to
pursue what's the best approach to take.