President Obama announced Tuesday that he will personally control U.S. energy production, the U.S. economy and American household budgets - carbon dioxide being more important than any of those concerns.
Having made it virtually impossible to build new coal-fired power plants, he announced that he will now order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to restrict CO2 emissions at existing coal-fueled plants.
He thus scored a two-fer.
First, he placated some of the green power people who support him. They went half mad with approval, applauding the president for "taking a giant step forward" toward presidential control of air.
(But only half mad. Many also want the president to outlaw natural gas and veto construction of the Keystone pipeline that would make the United States less dependent on foreign oil.)
Second, simply by announcing his plan, the president made it likely that utilities will be unable able to raise money for new coal-fired plants anyway.
On Monday, reported The Washington Post, "Consol Energy shares dropped 5.8 percent, Peabody Energy fell 7.2 percent, Cliffs Natural Resources tumbled 7.6 percent and Alpha Natural Resources slid 8 percent.
"Walter Energy, a smaller company, sank 6.1 percent after pulling back on a planned $1.55 billion credit refinancing."
Faced with a hostile government and a likely capital strike, perhaps coal-fired utilities should bow to the inevitable and shut down as soon as possible. It would be cheaper.
Low-income West Virginians can't afford electric power at today's prices anyway, much less with what House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called "a carbon tax" added on.
The president's pronouncement is bluster, of course. As Keith Johnson and Peter Nicholas of The Wall Street Journal noted, it would take years for the president to put his plan in place even if the country poses no resistance.
Obama runs no risks. He will be out of office when the lights go out.
But he speaks for his party, so his majority in the U.S. Senate may beat him to the door. Oh, well.