President Obama's Big Carbon Crackdown Readies for Launch

The EPA is about to impose a new regulation that will reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants starting June 2 and will become permanent in 2015. The new regulation, according to Politico, is the “most dramatic anti-pollution regulation in a generation.” Because the new regulation will further cripple the coal industry, as coal-burning plants will be severely affected, American power will become more dependent on natural gas, solar and wind.

In a case of strange bedfellows, environmentalists and the GOP may both be quite happy with the Obama Administration’s continued “War on Coal.” One environmentalist, Kyle Aarons at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, was pleased, saying, “This rule is the most significant climate action this administration will take.” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) an environmentalist supporter, encouraged the EPA to “go ahead boldly” with the proposed rule.

But the GOP is looking forward to the EPA’s action, feeling that it will backfire in the 2014 elections in states that are strong energy-producing states West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana. The coal industry has been reeling from the power plants that have been closed; and even some Democrats are attacking the EPA’s proposed changes.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said reducing fossil fuels could be life-threatening for some people, asserting, “You have another polar vortex next year, how many people will lose their lives?” Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, is distancing herself from the EPA’s new regulations, and already called an earlier restriction imposed by the EPA an “out-of-touch Washington regulation.” Democrat West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall, who may be in trouble in 2014, said in 2013, “this callous, ideologically driven agency continues to be numb to the economic pain that their reckless regulations cause.”  Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) wants to impede the EPA’s aggressiveness.

But Barack Obama has blithely ignored his party’s minions, giving interviews with various television meteorologists to push his climate change agenda and even telling one meteorologist, “This is a problem that is affecting Americans right now, whether it means increased flooding, greater vulnerability to drought, more severe wildfires. And people’s lives are at risk.”

But manufacturers and oil refining industries have joined the coal industry to condemn the EPA’s efforts, worried they are the beginning of a slippery slope that will eventually cripple all of them. Ross Eisenberg, vice president for energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, said, “These regulations could reduce the diversity of our energy supply, increase electricity and compliance costs for American businesses and shrink our competitiveness. We can’t sit by silently while that happens.”

EPA leaders respond that states will have many alternatives in their efforts to cut carbon emissions, like joining cap-and-trade networks, investing  in wind and solar power, or investing in energy efficiency programs. that help homeowners and businesses reduce their demand for electricity.

Kentucky would be hard hit; it obtains up to 90 percent of its power from coal, and in 2010 had the lowest electrical prices in the country. In Alaska, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina and Iowa, where incumbent Democrats are vulnerable, the GOP is hoping to use the EPA’s agenda to win Senate seats.

In order to make the new rule legal, the EPA must claim as its basis a part of the Clean Air Act that has previously only been used for limited regulations.


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