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Sizing Up EPA's Climate Rules Sizing Up EPA's Climate Rules

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Sizing Up EPA's Climate Rules

What will be the upshot of the Obama administration's rules aimed at clamping down on heat-trapping carbon emissions from the nation's power plants?

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday announced regulations controlling greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants not yet built. The rules, which were repurposed from ones initially announced last year, are expected to require technology to at least partially capture carbon from new power plants that burn coal, the dirtiest but also the most plentiful and cheap fossil fuel. The vast majority of scientists around the world agree that humans' use of fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and natural gas, is causing the Earth to warm more so than otherwise.

 

This set of rules is a precursor to another set that EPA is planning to announce by June 2014, which will represent the crux of President Obama's agenda to combat global warming: regulations cutting carbon emissions from power plants operating today. Coal-fired power plants represent the biggest chunk of U.S. carbon emissions, at 40 percent.

What impact will the regulations announced last week have on the nation's electricity sector, and the broader economy? What impact will they have on greenhouse-gas emissions and public health?

Do the structure and content of these regulations portend anything about how EPA may craft the more significant regulations aimed at existing power plants?

 

What, if anything, can or should Congress do in response to the regulations announced last week and, more broadly, EPA's suite of climate rules? 

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