The EPA's Dramatic New Plan May Not Be So Dramatic After All

Details of President Obama's assertive executive action are coming out ahead of tomorrow's unveiling of a big plan to address climate change.

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Details of President Obama's assertive executive action are coming out ahead of tomorrow's unveiling of a big plan to address climate change initiative.

In what is being described as "the strongest action ever taken by the United States government to fight climate change," the Environmental Protection Agency will reportedly unveil a plan to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030. The plan is based on carbon pollution statistics from 2005.

And there is where things get interesting:

So far the EPA has gone with a cannot-confirm-nor-deny tack, telling multiple outlets things like this:

EPA will release its proposed carbon pollution reduction rule on Monday. Until then the agency will not comment on any information that may or may not be in the proposal."

As The Wire's Abby Ohlheiser wrote last week, the plan is also expected to allow states to use cap-and-trade regulations to keep the standards met:

Some states already have cap-and-trade plans: California, and a regional plan in the Northeast. But the Obama administration has long wanted to open up the strategy to all states. Back in 2010, the administration gave up on a plan to get cap-and-trade legislation through Congress. It's all but certain that the new regulation will be met with the same sort of outspoken opposition from Republicans and the coal industry that the legislative push prompted.

It was also noted that President Obama was said to be seeking a way to give states a number of policy options for the new plan. According to today's reports, these options will include cap-and-trade programs and states will be allow to keep coal plants open as they "reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems – by installing new wind and solar generation, energy-efficiency technology."

Needless to say, regardless of the particulars, there will be some heavy opposition to this plan. It certainly won't help that it's an election year in some coal states, where this will be seen as a "War on Coal." Here's how the initiative is being framed in Time by Michael Grunwald.

When Obama said Saturday that his carbon rules will prevent 100,000 asthma attacks in Year One, he wasn’t describing the health benefits of emitting less carbon dioxide; he was describing the health benefits of burning less coal.

We'll certainly find out tomorrow.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.