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Obama draws a bead on existing coal plants

Members of Congress having refused to pass a carbon tax, President Obama is expected to announce that he will use his executive powers to curb "climate change" personally.

Included in the president's plans, according to knowledgeable sources, are additional regulation of existing coal-fired power plants.

Watch out, West Virginia.

According to a preview by Julie Alperin of The Washington Post, "the move to impose greenhouse gas limits on existing plants - which account for a third of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions and 40 percent of its carbon emissions - will raise consumers' electricity prices in the short term as utilities are forced to shutter aging coal plants to comply with stricter pollution limits."

How much?

Eilperin noted that the National Resources Defense Council proposes a plan it estimated would cost industry $4 billion "but save many times that in health benefits."

How?

"The administration recently changed the way it estimates the social cost of carbon, which it uses to calculate the costs and benefits of climate rules," she wrote. "Regulators now assume it is worth about $36 per ton to avoid emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, compared with the $22 per ton they used before."

By such sleight-of-hand, the administration will seize regulatory control over the 1,142 coal-fired power plants and 3,967 natural-gas-fired plants in the United States. Together, said the Edison Electric Institute, they account for almost 68 percent of the nation's power production capacity.

(Nuclear plants account for 19 percent, hydropower for 6.7 percent, and all renewables combined for 5.4 percent of electric power in 2012.)

"The administration's war on fossil fuels is now fully joined," said Stephen Brown, vice president for government affairs for Tesoro Corp.

"Apparently this White House is willing to sacrifice the American manufacturing renaissance brought on by booming domestic energy development on the altar of climate change."

The president's power to take such economically destructive steps rests on a Supreme Court finding that under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency may regulate carbon dioxide.

"Unlike his other signature second-term initiatives . . . Obama can undertake all of these policies without congressional input," said the Post story.

"Though Congress could theoretically overturn an Environmental Protection Agency rule to regulate existing utilities under the Clean Air Act, Democrats have the votes they need in the Senate to block such an effort."

That, then, is the root of suicidal economic policy.

 


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