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Limits need to be set for our protection

The Los Angeles Times, in an editorial reprinted in the Johnson City Press on March 29, holds that “EPA is right in regulating coal-fired plants.”
The reference is to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, to be finalized by June 1.
Hailed as a climate game-changer by environmental groups and the Union of Concerned Scientists, the regulation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, by 30 percent relative to the 2005 emissions baseline.
The power plants, thus far unregulated for carbon emissions, are the nation’s largest source of the pollution that is driving climate change.
The electric utilities, despite initial fear of how “more regulation” might affect their bottom lines, are not greatly concerned about the carbon-regulation proposal. An insider’s assessment of its impact by Kathleen Wolf Davis, writing in an industry trade journal, Intelligent Utility Update, states:
“These new guidelines are really very modest. Rather than being a game-changing push toward cleaner power production, the EPA’s new guidelines are more of an acknowledgment of the direction in which power producers are already moving. They [merely] offer an incentive for slower-acting power suppliers to follow suit.”
In the plan, while the EPA sets this modest-by-industry-acknowledgement carbon reduction standard, it lets the states lead the way on how to meet it. It gives them much time (three years) and much flexibility in devising their respective plan details, as best suits states’ particular circumstances and any achievements already reached in clean-energy transitioning.
If states fail to develop their own strategy for meeting the carbon reduction mandate, plans will be drawn up for them, and overseen, by the EPA.
One would think that a much-needed regulatory move to counter the growing threat and costs from global climate change would have clear sailing. Not so! A private coal mining company having first filed a lawsuit against the EPA over the Clean Power Plan, a dozen coal-reliant states have followed suit trying to derail it.
An “Electricity Security and Affordability” bill in the Congress would have that body, rather than the EPA, decide whether, when and what kind of greenhouse-gas regulation is needed. And the Senate majority leader has joined the anti-regulation fray, encouraging the states not to participate in the plan and introducing a budget resolution that would allow them to opt out of it.
For many states and the congress, aversion to the climate-and-health protective regulation the American people want seems to run so deep now as to risk not letting the Clean Power Plan become reality. If ideologically so strongly opposed to regulation, they should adopt a market-friendly alternative — as advocated by many economists and the Citizen’s Climate Lobby organization — of pricing carbon. This would quickly reduce emissions, steer investment to renewable sources and energy efficiency, save many lives and help generate millions of new, clean-energy related jobs.
“It is dismaying,” says the L.A. Times, “that the industry and some Republican states continue to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to set new limits.” Indeed, it is.