Greenhouse Gas and Pollution News: Obama Plans New Carbon Emission Reduction Rule for Power Plants
On Monday, the president is expected to reveal a new rule through an executive order that would essentially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
According to The Los Angeles Times, President Barack Obama will bypass Congress to pass the 3,000-page rule under the Clean Air Act with the purpose of cutting greenhouse gases. Power plants release most of the nation's heat-trapping gases as they account for roughly 40 percent of carbon emissions.
Opponents to the new rule claim that this is another attempt in the president's "war on coal," which they insist would cut jobs and spark lawsuits. However, a few power companies in coal-dependent states have begun taking steps to reduce emissions already.
Robert Flexon, chief executive of Dynegy, a Houston-based energy company, said his company expected the changes to come and is working with the tide rather than against it.
"Carbon policy is going to impact our business, and we have to be prepared for that," Flexon said. "It can be a threat or an opportunity. I'd rather make it an opportunity."
The new rule is expected to be implemented before Obama departs from office, sometime at the end of 2016. Although, the legal battles Obama's administration will face could affect the president's proposed timeline.
The Obama administration will have to face not only legal hurdles from other energy companies but it will have to make sure the nation's energy supply remains stable and consumer prices do not significantly increase, The Times reported.
While some states have already begun weaning off of coal power, many groups including energy executives, regulators and even some environmentalists insist that some coal-fired plants need to remain operating for a time, but at less capacity.
Illinois' Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Bonnett said all states differ in energy needs and the approach the agency has to take to reduce emissions will vary by state.
"We're pretty consistent with what you're hearing from other states, that you can't have a one-size-fits-all approach, but a suite of tools instead to use to cut emissions," Bonnett said.
The Times reported that the EPA's past restrictions on setting amounts of specific pollutants from power plants would not work the same with coal plants as there is no cost-effective way of reduce carbon dioxide.
The EPA will instead place limits and pollution targets based on the state's energy consumption and give them considerable flexibility to meet the new goals.
The new rule is similar to the House's cap-and-trade bill, which was passed in Obama's first term but did not pass in the Senate, according to The Times.
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