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Obama’s plan skips Congress to tackle climate change
Environment » Rule requires new power plants to capture some carbon dioxide and bury it underground.


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Obama said such pessimistic views are wrong.

"Now, special interests and their allies in Congress will claim that these guidelines will kill jobs and crush the economy," Obama said in his address. "Let’s face it, that’s what they always say."

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and other government officials have promoted the proposal’s flexibility as a way to both cut emissions and ensure affordable electricity. But that flexibility could backfire.

Some states, particularly those heavily reliant on fossil fuels, could resist taking action, leading the federal government to take over the program. That happened in Texas when it initially refused to issue greenhouse gas permits through another air pollution program.

Lawyers for states and industry also are likely to argue that controls far afield of the power plant violate the law’s intent.

The rule probably would push utilities to rely more on natural gas because coal emits about twice as much carbon dioxide. The recent oil and gas drilling boom in the U.S. has helped lower natural gas prices and, by extension, electricity prices. But it still generally is cheaper to generate power with coal than with natural gas. Also, natural gas prices are volatile and can lead to fluctuations in power prices.

The rule will push the U.S. closer to the 17 percent reduction by 2020 it promised other countries at the start of Obama’s presidency, it will fall far short of the global reductions scientists say are needed to stabilize the planet’s temperature. That’s because U.S. fossil-fueled power plants account for 6 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

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Follow Dina Cappiello’s environment coverage on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dinacappiello




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