By ordering the EPA to impose a first-ever federal cap on the amount of carbon dioxide power plants emit, the Obama administration would compel some coal-fired facilities to close down, others to install costly emission controls and still others to convert to more sustainable sources of energy. So a shakeout could be the order of the day.
While acknowledging that climate change is “a real and growing threat to the health and livelihoods of Missourians,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), nevertheless indicated proposed emissions caps would require “serious review to ensure they don't harm working families.”
McCaskill's colleague in the House, Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, Mo., said the directive undermines Obama's purported support of all sources of energy by taking “direct aim at coal.”
Sen. Rob Portman (D-Ohio) expressed concern that “local communities will lose millions in tax revenues,” given that coal generates 80% of Ohio's energy.
Obama, for his part, countered that Congress had repeatedly failed to pass a climate-change plan and that it was time his administration took the reins. Presumably it will be able to do so as a result of a 2007 Supreme Court decision declaring carbon dioxide a pollutant that EPA can regulate under the Clean Air Act.
Some believe conservative states will go to court to combat caps issued by the agency.
Time will tell. In the meantime, power plants emitted more than 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2012.