President Obama acknowledged that his preferred climate change policies make energy “a little more expensive,” but he suggested that the initial cost is worth the long-term reward of lowering carbon emissions.
“I have to tell you that there are some Democrats, for example, who represent states or districts that are heavily reliant on old power plants and are more heavily manufacturing based,” Obama said during his Google+ hangout on Friday. “And the truth is that if you produce power using old power plants, you’re going to be emitting more carbon, but, to upgrade those plants means energy is going to be a little more expensive, at least on the front end.”
The remark evokes a comment made about gas prices made by Outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu . “We have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” Chu said in 2008.
Last year, he renounced that goal. “I no longer share that view,” Chu told Congress in March of 2012. “When I became Secretary of Energy, I represented the United States government, and I think right now in this economic, very slow, return — these prices could very well affect the comeback of our economy,” he added.
The president said it’s his job to convince people to “take actions now where the benefits are going to be coming down the road — or at least avoiding big problems down the road — and it’s hard when people are thinking about day to day issues.”
The Institute for Energy Research predicts that an Environmental Protection Agency rule targeting those old power plants will shut down ten percent of the country’s coal production.
“More than 34 gigawatts (GW) of electrical generating capacity are now set to retire because of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Rule (colloquially called Utility MACT) and the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) regulations.” IER said. “Most of these retirements will come from coal-fired power plants, shuttering over 10 percent of the U.S.’s coal-fired generating capacity.”