News roundup: Press, public support EPA carbon policy

With the proposed EPA rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants the topic of conversations coast-to-coast, newspapers around the country are siding with the public, arguing in favor of cutting carbon emissions now to combat the potential effects of climate change.

The New York Times considers the proposed rules an important step forward, promoting clean energy, the economy, and our health:

  • The greenhouse gas reductions required by the Obama administration’s proposed rule on power plants will not get the world to where it has to go to avert the worst consequences of climate change. But they are likely to be enormously beneficial: good for the nation’s health, good for technological innovation, good for President Obama’s credibility abroad, and, in time, good for the planet and future generations.
  • The issue now is how tough the new standards can be and how they are to be achieved. The rule provides industry and the states — which, by law, share responsibility for carrying out the rule — with considerable flexibility.
  • Each state will be given a reduction target tailored to its energy mix. States will be able to decide how best to meet their targets, using an array of strategies of their choosing — deploying more renewable energy sources like wind and solar and more natural gas, ramping up energy efficiency, creating regional cap-and-trade initiatives aimed at the greatest reductions at the lowest cost.

The Washington Post applauded the proposed rule and its role in fighting climate change, also pushing for a comprehensive, long-term carbon policy:

  • Instead of regulating plant by plant, the proposal sets emissions goals for the states and provides flexibility on how to meet them. States can push changes to power plants and the fuels they use, reduce electricity waste, promote renewable energy or all of the above. States can also band together into regional carbon-cutting pacts, which would offer even more flexibility to meet emissions goals at the lowest cost this sort of regulation could achieve.
  • [O]pponents will no doubt insist that the climate issue is dealt with. Global warming activists got their regulations, so why do any more? A few reasons (there are many): The EPA’s new plan is a medium-term policy, but the country requires a long-run transformation in how it produces and consumes energy. Its implementation will depend heavily on who’s in the Oval Office; not much would happen in a Ted Cruz administration. The proposal applies only to the electricity sector, but emissions result from activities across the economy.
  • Sustained international engagement backed by serious and credible commitments — like the EPA’s latest plan — will be necessary. And countries such as China and India will not move if the United States does not move first. The Obama administration’s job is not over.

USA Today supported the EPA’s systematic approach to dealing with U.S. carbon emissions while boosting our credibility abroad:

  • There's no guarantee that the Obama administration's new limits on carbon emissions from existing power plants, announced Monday, can reverse these ominous trends [brought on by climate change]. Global warming is, by definition, a global problem. So even if America meets the administration's goal of a 30% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, the U.S. reductions will be swamped by increases elsewhere if other big polluters don't follow suit.
  • …Cleaner air and cleaner water have been achieved at manageable costs. But it's reasonable to conclude that the new regulations will cause electric rates to rise in some regions, particularly in coal-dependent states such as Kentucky, Wyoming, West Virginia, Indiana and North Dakota. …Perhaps the new standards will make clean-coal and carbon recapture technologies more economically feasible. And perhaps low-income energy assistance could be increased to consumers in coal-dependent places to help ease the transition. In any case, a singular focus on electric bills overlooks the high costs of inaction for taxpayers everywhere — in storm damage, sea wall construction and drought relief.
  • Prudent risk management involves leaving a margin for error when the fate of the planet is at risk. It involves preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. So far, the nation's policy has mainly involved preparing for the best case scenarios and hoping against the worst ones.
  • Monday's announcement marks the start of a far saner approach for the United States, one that will resonate globally.

The American public is ready to act on greenhouse gas emissions, even if it does mean paying a little more on their bills. The Washington Post’s “The Fix” Blog:

  • A lopsided and bipartisan majority of Americans support federal limits on greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds most are willing to stomach a higher energy bill to pay for it.
  • Fully 70 percent say the federal government should require limits to greenhouse gases from existing power plants, the focus of a new rule announced Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency. An identical 70 percent supports requiring states to limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions within their borders.  (Read everything you need to know about the EPA's proposed rules).
  • Democrats and Republicans are in rare agreement on the issue. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, 76 percent among independents and 79 percent of Democrats support state-level limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Strong tea party supporters are most resistant to limits on emissions by states and power plants; 50 percent say the federal government should impose caps, while 45 percent say they should not.

Be sure to check out yesterday’s roundup on the new EPA rule: News roundup: EPA announces plan to cut CO2 emissions, and for a stirring rebuttal of why naysayers’ claims are “False,” check out the latest edition of PolitiFact.


Editorial Board, “Nearing a Climate Legacy.” The New York Times. 2 June 2014.

Editorial Board, “The EPA’s emissions plan should be just the beginning.” The Washington Post. 2 June 2014.

Editorial Board, “EPA finally gets U.S. into climate game.” USA Today.

Scott Clement and Peyton M. Craighill, “A huge majority of Americans support regulating carbon from power plants. And they’re even willing to pay for it.” The Fix Blog. 2 June 2014.


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