Daniel F. Becker and James Gerstenzang of the Safe Climate Campaign (what is a “safe” climate?) want the president to use his executive authority to, basically, kill coal-fired power plants:
Electric power plants spew about 40 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution in the United States, but, amazingly, there are no federal limits on utility emissions of this potent greenhouse gas. The Obama administration plans to remedy this situation by drafting rules that would curtail these discharges from existing plants. The president should make sure they are tough. Nothing he can do will cut greenhouse gases more.
By accomplishing this under the executive authority Congress granted him in the Clean Air Act, the president will be stepping in where recent Congresses have refused to go. He did the same thing last August, when he toughened auto emissions standards that will result in a new car fleet that averages 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025,and again last spring, when he proposed rules, restricting carbon dioxide emissions, that will effectively prevent the building of new coal-burning power plants.
Now President Obama should require existing power plants to reduce their emissions by at least one-quarter by 2020. These plants emitted 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2011, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, so a 25 percent cut would result in a reduction of more than 500 million tons. This would reduce lung-related illness and premature deaths, slow the accumulation of climate-changing gases in the atmosphere and demonstrate to the rest of the world that the United States was serious about taking on global warming.
But don’t worry. There will be a jobs bonanza!
The progression to using less coal will create new jobs to build the highly efficient appliances, wind turbines, solar farms and other technologies that capture renewable energy. In addition, jobs will be created as some states and utilities choose to comply by building natural gas power plants, which should be done only if they won’t cause environmental havoc.
A Solyndra in every pot!