It’s been overshadowed by the continuing coverage of the Bergdahl-Taliban five swap, but reports began to surface this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the direction of the White House, has begun pushing new carbon rules on existing coal plants that aim to reduce their emissions by 30% from 2005 levels.
Call it cap and trade by regulatory fiat:
Analysts widely expect the final rule to give states the option of joining or creating cap-and-trade programs, which allow companies to trade credits for emissions. The draft released on Monday does not discuss that possibility.
“There are no commercially viable [carbon capture and storage methods]. That’s why we expect cap-and-trade,” said Michael Ferguson, an associate director at S&P who covers merchant energy producers.
At risk of drawing the ire of the climate change true believers, there was a reason the climate change cap and trade legislation failed a few years back, and it wasn’t because evil, bible-thumping conservatives are convinced mankind has no effect on the environment (for the record, we do. But our carbon emissions, for example, are pretty negligible compared to things like decaying organic matter and volcanoes).
No, it was defeated in the Senate because many Democrats that voted against hailed from states that relied on jobs related to the coal industry. And if there’s one thing that moves a politician, it’s the voice of a united constituency.
But not to be deterred, the Obama administration used the EPA and the Clean Air Act to declare carbon emissions a health hazard that must be regulated: