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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

 
Will President Obama use his power to take major climate action?

by David Atkins

Not much the President wants can get through the GOP Congress, to be sure. But some things the President can do on his own. Of particular interest are some climate regulations on his plate:
Draft regulations that would place tough new limits on emissions from the nation’s existing power plants has moved to the White House, according to records posted Tuesday by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

The Environmental Protection Agency rule, perhaps the most contentious regulatory action proposed by the Obama administration, is a cornerstone of the president’s initiative to counter the effects of climate change.

The action represents the likely last step before the draft rule is formally proposed and its details are made public. President Obama has set a June deadline for proposal, with planned enactment of the regulation the following June.

The timeline is meant to ensure the rule is in place by the time Obama leaves office.

In a description of the rule posted to the OMB’s website, the EPA reasserts its authority to enact the new standards under the Clean Air Act. The effort follows a 2009 EPA finding that “projected concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generation,” according to the EPA.

Power plants’ “electric generating units” (EGU) are the single largest stationary source of greenhouse gas, accounting for more than a third of all emissions in the United States.
The one advantage of Republican intransigence is that there isn't a very high cost for the President in taking actions like this. Republicans are already in full battle armor, so there's not much they can threaten with. There aren't that many Dems left in areas where the coal industry can make or break their electoral futures, and the few that do exist can easily and safely pivot away from the President on this in their own local areas.

It appears that President Obama will be willing to put these standards into place. That's a very important step--and it's worth remembering that if a GOP president follows him, the standards will likely be reversed. Just another way in which there really is a big difference between the two parties.


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