POLITICS

WSJ: Obama weighing executive action on power plants

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

In his State of the Union address next week, President Obama will hint at plans to use executive authority to impose his environmental agenda, the Wall Street Journal reports:

President Barack Obama in next week’s State of the Union speech will lay out a renewed effort to combat climate change that is expected to include using his authority to curb emissions from existing power plants, people who have talked to the administration about its plans said.

The action, building on a pledge in the second inaugural address, fits within Mr. Obama’s larger strategy of making full use of his executive authority in areas where Congress is putting up obstacles to his agenda.

The president may go a step further than the Environmental Protection Agency and propose cutting carbon emissions at existing coal plants, according to WSJ. The EPA so far has only regulated new power plants.

Republicans have made it clear that any efforts to impose new emissions standards on existing plants will be met with stiff resistance, saying the rules would deal a fatal blow to the coal industry. According to WSJ:

In spring 2012, the EPA proposed strict emissions limits for new power plants. The proposed limits— 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt hour of electricity—would make coal-fired plants all but impossible to build. The average coal-fired plant today, according to the EPA, emits 2,249 pounds per megawatt-hour, about double the average gas-fired plant. The rule is set to be completed later this year.

On Tuesday, Rep. Ed Whitfield, chairman of the House Energy and Power subcommittee, told reporters, “If they start trying to do this with existing plants, they’re going to have a real battle,” according to the Hill.

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