Obama’s Global Warming Rule Leaks Early

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2.1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground. 
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Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
June 1, 2014, 12:18 p.m.

The En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency will de­but draft reg­u­la­tions on Monday to cut car­bon emis­sions from power plants 30 per­cent from 2005 levels by 2030, ac­cord­ing to mul­tiple sources briefed on the pro­pos­al. 

The Wall Street Journ­al first re­por­ted de­tails of the cli­mate rule on Sunday, say­ing that EPA will seek a 25 per­cent over­all car­bon cut by 2020. It will ratchet that re­quire­ment up to 30 per­cent by 2030.

An­oth­er source cau­tioned, however, that the 30 per­cent re­duc­tion may be one of sev­er­al tar­gets pro­posed by the EPA. 

The agency plans to set vary­ing re­duc­tion tar­gets by state. And states will be able to chose from a menu of op­tions to com­ply. This in­cludes adding re­new­able-power gen­er­a­tion to the grid, spur­ring en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency gains, and im­ple­ment­ing mar­ket-based ap­proaches, such as cap-and-trade, to rein in emis­sions. 

The rules ares ex­pec­ted to be fi­nal­ized by June 2015, and states will have un­til June 2016 to sub­mit plans for achiev­ing the stand­ard. 

The reg­u­la­tions stand as the center­piece of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­fort to ad­dress glob­al warm­ing. Once fi­nal­ized, they will help shore up the pres­id­ent’s leg­acy on cli­mate change. The White House also hopes the rules will pave the way for the U.S. to ex­tract sub­stan­tial com­mit­ments from na­tions such as China and In­dia to re­duce car­bon emis­sions. 

EPA and the White House de­clined to com­ment on the re­port. 

The reg­u­la­tions drew quick praise, however, from Chris­ti­ana Figueres, the ex­ec­ut­ive sec­ret­ary of the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change. ”[This] will send a good sig­nal to na­tions every­where that one of the world’s biggest emit­ters is tak­ing the fu­ture of the plan­et and its people ser­i­ously,” Figueres said. 

En­vir­on­ment­al­ists see the reg­u­la­tions as a ma­jor step for­ward for do­mest­ic cli­mate policy. And green groups are gear­ing up to win pub­lic sup­port for the rules while sim­ul­tan­eously de­fend­ing it on Cap­it­ol Hill. EPA was set to brief in­di­vidu­als from ma­jor en­vir­on­ment­al or­gan­iz­a­tions Sunday night on the tech­nic­al de­tails of the pro­pos­al ahead of its of­fi­cial re­lease. 

The ad­min­is­tra­tion can also count on Demo­crat­ic back­ing. Ac­cord­ing to a White House of­fi­cial, the pres­id­ent held a call with a group of Sen­ate and House Demo­crats Sunday af­ter­noon to thank them for their sup­port. 

But not every­one is a fan. Mod­er­ate Demo­crats fa­cing a tough fight for reelec­tion in the midterms, such as Sens. Mary Landrieu of Lous­i­ana and Mark Pry­or of Arkan­sas, have pre­vi­ously voted to block EPA from reg­u­lat­ing green­house-gas emis­sions. 

And the reg­u­la­tions are sure to face a lit­any of leg­al chal­lenges and le­gis­lat­ive push­back.

Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell cri­ti­cized the cli­mate rules on Sunday, say­ing the regs it will “des­troy jobs and raise costs for fam­il­ies across Amer­ica.” The sen­at­or plans to in­tro­duce le­gis­la­tion next week to stop the reg­u­la­tions from tak­ing ef­fect. It is un­likely that Mc­Con­nell will be able to se­cure enough votes to pass the bill in the Demo­crat­ic-con­trolled cham­ber. 

Ben Geman contributed to this article.
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