Obama's Clean Power Plan Resurrects Cap-and-Trade by EPA Rule

Two years after directing the Environmental Protection Agency to come up with federal carbon limits on power plants, President Obama today announced his new climate change plan with a goal that “by 2030, carbon pollution from our power plants will be 32 percent lower than it was a decade ago.”


In his East Room remarks, Obama rattled off a litany of climate change issues, including “shrinking icecaps forced National Geographic to make the biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart.”

“By definition, I don’t deal with issues if they’re easy to solve, because somebody else has already solved them,” he said. “…But this is one of those rare issues, because of its magnitude, because of its scope, that if we don’t get it right, we may not be able to reverse and we may not be able to adapt sufficiently. There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change.”

Under the 1,560-page EPA rule, states and tribes would have to ensure that all power plants meet the new emission performance rates from 2022 to 2029 — through methods including emissions trading, aka the cap-and-trade he couldn’t get through Congress in his first term.

“The nerdier way to say that is that we’ll be keeping 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere,” Obama said. “The simpler, layman’s way of saying that is that it’s like cutting every ounce of emission due to electricity from 108 million American homes, or its the equivalent of taking 166 million cars off the road. By 2030, we will reduce premature deaths from power plant emissions by nearly 90 percent, and thanks to this plan, there will be 90,000 fewer asthma attacks among our children each year.”


Obama said his opponents “will claim that this plan will cost you money, even though this plan, the analysis shows, will ultimately save the average American nearly $85 a year on their energy bills.”

“They’ll claim this plan is a war on coal to scare up votes even as they ignore my plan to actually invest in revitalizing coal country and supporting healthcare and retirement for coal miners and their families and retraining those workers for better paying jobs and healthier jobs,” he said.

“Communities across America have been losing coal jobs for decades. I want to work with Congress to help them, not to use them as a political football. Partisan press releases aren’t going to help those families.”

Tomorrow is Obama’s birthday, and the president said he’s “starting to reflect on age.”

“And folks who are older than me can remember the Cuyahoga River burning because of pollution and acid rain threatening to destroy all of the great forests of the — of the Northeast,” he said. “And you fast-forward 30, 40 years later, and we solved those problems. But at the time, the same characters who are going to be criticizing this plan were saying, ‘This is going to kill jobs. This is going to destroy businesses. This is going to hurt low-income people. It’s going to be wildly expensive.’ And each time, they were wrong.”


Obama claimed that “the only reason that China is now looking at getting serious about its emissions is because they saw that we were going to do it too.”

“…I don’t want my grandkids not to be able to swim in Hawaii or not to be able to climb a mountain and see glacier because we didn’t do something about it. I don’t want millions of people’s lives disrupted and this world more dangerous because we didn’t do something about it. That’d be shameful of us.”

Secretary of State John Kerry quickly praised the rule as “immediate, ambitious action” that is “needed to lower our greenhouse gas emissions and stave off the worst effects of climate change.”

“The President’s Climate Action Plan, including today’s final Clean Power Plan, is already working to comprehensively drive down U.S. emissions, and lead the way for our international partners,” Kerry said. “These actions are all the more critical as we draw closer to the UN climate negotiations in Paris this December.”

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), though, said the administration “has no concern for costs, no concept of reality and no respect for the rule of law.”

“President Obama, and his EPA know that Americans do not support his costly carbon mandates, as most prominently on display when the U.S. Senate expressly rejected such an economically disastrous idea by failing to pass cap-and-trade legislation in 2009,” Inhofe said. “…Despite the president’s rhetoric, the so-called Clean Power Plan will be most harmful to low-income and minority communities. Our seniors will be forced to choose between medical care and meals while paying for a multi-billion dollar rule that has no measurable impact on global warming.”


Inhofe said his committee is working on legislation to counter the EPA and with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on “two Congressional Review Act Resolutions of Disapproval to overturn both the new and existing source rules.”


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