Green groups are publicly praising President Obama's global-warming rules, but the plan doesn't go as far as many had hoped — and the groups are preparing a fight to toughen the administration's proposed carbon cuts.
The Environmental Protection Agency released draft regulations on Monday that the agency says would cut power plants' greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent from their 2005 levels by 2030.
Green groups are flummoxed over the use of the 2005 baseline, which is more in line with what power-plant operators asked for than what environmentalists demanded.
Here's why: Carbon emissions from the U.S. power sector have fallen since 2005, a decrease attributable to the economic downturn and a switchover to natural gas and away from carbon-heavy coal. Given that decline, environmentalists lobbied the administration for cuts relative to a more recent baselines year, when emissions were lower than in 2005, because that would represent a greater total reduction.
But that's not what the greens got.
And as result of the administration's 2005 baseline, power plants are already well on their way to meeting the target. According to EPA, carbon pollution from electricity generation decreased by 16 percent from 2005 to 2012, a reduction that registers as roughly half of the 30 percent target mandated by the regulation.