Obama Issues New EPA Regulations, But Not Without Backlash

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: July 9, 2013 3:55 AM
Barack Obama

President Barack Obama | Credit: Walter G Arce - Shutterstock

While the world looks onward as President Obama and his administration tackle a slew of controversies at home and abroad, the president and his administration seem to have the environment on their minds.

Obama is tackling global warming head-on in a new series of regulations to reduce carbon pollution. His plan calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to release its proposed rules for new power plants in September and rules for emissions from existing plants in June 2014.

A newly-released glimpse of new regulations recently proposed by the EPA preview a broad array of environmental restrictions, ranging from pollution runoff from military ships to increasing the gas mileage of heavy trucks. But one regulation to fight global warming is specifically taking center stage: reducing the amount of carbon that coal-fired power plants are allowed to emit.

In September, the EPA is planning to propose its own rules for greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, and next June it will issue draft rules for existing facilities. These dates match up with Obama’s timeline for the new regulations. But while the timelines may match up, analysts say it doesn’t mean there won’t be delays. Power-plant restrictions actually have a lengthy history of delays -- in 2012, the Obama administration revealed a draft rule for new power plants, but ended up delaying its finalization after more than 2 million comments were submitted by the public and lawmakers representing coal-producing states, according to The Daily Caller.

While the limitations have brought celebration from environmentalists who believe the regulations will help combat climate change, not everyone is happy with the new direction of Obama’s regulations.

The limitations on coal plants have members of the coal industry up in arms because the regulations will be heavily restricting on the coal industry. New regulations would make it almost impossible to open any new coal plants and will shut down old ones.

"The regulations the president wants to force on coal are not feasible. And if it's not feasible, it's not reasonable," said Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

West Virginia is the second-largest producer of coal in the U.S. behind Wyoming, which produces 338,900 short tons of coal annually. The coal mining industry is important to the state -- it pumps millions of dollars into West Virginia’s economy every year, with coal exports growing nearly 40 percent from 2011 to 2012.

"It's simply unacceptable that one of the key elements of his climate change proposal places regulations on coal that are completely impossible to meet with existing technology," said Manchin. “The president has declared war on coal.”

The White House is trying to err on the side of caution so as to not ruffle too many feathers of members of the coal industry, but those close to Obama say it might be necessary. "Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal," said one of Obama's climate advisers. "On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed."

There are also concerns about the price of energy as a result of the regulations, and insiders say Americans will raise electricity prices and slow overall economic growth. Using wind and solar power to generate electricity is much costlier than using coal resources or natural gas for energy, potentially putting financial strain on government departments already suffering from sequestration.

But even if Obama can lessen the carbon emissions of the U.S., it may not make a huge difference worldwide, as greenhouse gas emissions remain high in developing countries like India and China where heavy pollution makes the air hard to breathe.

But President Obama intends to work with these countries to help get them on the right track to lower greenhouse gas emissions. China has already surpassed the level of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and India is not far behind. Both countries’ emissions have continued to increase over the years, while U.S. greenhouse gases have been on the decline since 2005.

Whether foreign countries choose to accept and follow an example set by the U.S. remains to be seen.

But EPA rules have a long history of delays for a variety of reasons. A prime example of delays is evident in the EPA’s attempt to regulate waste. The agency has been trying to do so since 2007, but hasn’t issued a real ruling on regulation since 2010.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at allison@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (9)

7:35PM JUL 10TH 2013
Funny how you enviro nuts defend obama and his American economy destroying policies, but have no problem when he flew to africa last week and gave them 9 billion dollars to build coal plants.
Oh yea, anybody read about Germany lately? Why don't you guys take a minute and read why this solar and wind power only country decided to build a dozen brand new coal fired power plants... And America is going down the same path.
7:47PM JUL 10TH 2013
Germany leads the world in solar power.
On the other hand you can do a happy dance as today the House accepted the troglodyte from Texas Michael Burgess's amendment to the energy bill saying 'Mericans don't need no darn efficient lighting.Urrah!
PS, the whole Texas Republican house delegation pretty much qualifies as troglodyte central.
7:34PM JUL 10TH 2013
Funny how you enviro nuts defend obama and his American economy destroying policies, but have no problem when he flew to africa last week and gave them 9 billion dollars to build coal plants.
Oh yea, anybody read about Germany lately? Why don't you guys take a minute and read why this solar and wind power only country decided to build a dozen brand new coal fired power plants... And America is going down the same path.
4:54PM JUL 9TH 2013
Yes, Joe Manchin must be right . . . . "if it's not feasible, it's not reasonable" . . . . . . I mean it's not like the Mauna Loa recorded atmospheric CO2 levels have exceeded 400 ppm, for apparently the first time since the Pliocene Era, some three to five million years ago, when humans didn’t even exist . . . . and it's not like CO2 levels for the entire period of human civilization, roughly some 8,000 years, remained below 280 ppm until the dawn of the industrial age (~ 1750), and since then have been increasing steadily upwards . . . .

And it's not like fellow scientist Ralph Keeling recently noted about the CO2 level rising above 400ppm that “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds” . . . . . yes, the deniers are correct, doing nothing is the only feasible option . . . at least, when you only care about profits, and are so short sighted that you don't care what happens to your children or the future . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
10:40AM JUL 9TH 2013
Remember what Obama said, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.
2:50PM JUL 9TH 2013
Repubtallygirl, coal fired plants are terrible , there is truly no such thing as clean coal. From the mining to the burning every part of the chain has significant adverse eviromental and health consequences. Fracking production of natural gas is currently making ng far less expensive than coal thus everywhere, even in coal country coal fired plants are being taken off line and replaced with ng plants. Fracking has its own issues not the least of which is as with all the extractive energy business's they use their political muscle and influence to maximize profit and minimize mitigating or reducing/ eliminating adverse effects. The result being that the costs of mitigating the adverse effects invariably fall to taxpayers so the costs of adverse consequences are socialized and the immediate profits are maximized.
Repacing windows and doors, adding insulation, replacing incandescent lights with florescent and now led , replacing a/c, heaters, and major appliances that are more than 15 years old as well as making sure new construction is efficient lower usage thus saving money for the consumer and reducing the need for more generation capacity.
6:01PM JUL 9TH 2013
And as an example of the real savings that can be realized by the action I listed. I live in a regular Florida cheap tract home, cmu, asphalt shingle roof, of 1974 vintage. Did injection foam inn the walls, new windows, supplemental inslation in above ceiling crawlspace. Electrical and gas usage have been reduced 30%. The utility has a function on theirr website that lets you go back to 2000 and do yearly usage and compare to your neighbors. The highest use neighbor is a Republican couple that use more than twice as much water, electricity , and gas than we do and over 25% more than the average of the neighborhood with exactly the same size house as we do. And they have the audacity to do letters to the editor of the local paper complaining about the local utility.
7:45AM JUL 9TH 2013
This is propaganda not journalism. "Tackling" infers success where in truth not only are the motives of the action unfounded but the resulting direct harm that will be done to the nations poor through increased utility costs is ignored. "Global" climate change is an unprocen boogy man. If not than why not name it for what it is, cooling, or warming? Which is it? And the whole topic of laws being slathered on the people by unelected bureaucrats and not by "bills originanting in the house f representatives" (see us constitution), is completly obfuscated in favor of totalitarian slavishness. You should be fired.
11:35AM JUL 9TH 2013
You must not have read the part where it specifically mentions rising electricity prices as potential fallout. This article presents two sides, both the positive and negative. Maybe you should leave your idiocy at the door before you comment with asinine BS.

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