Obama unveils historic rules to reduce coal pollution by 30%.

Guardian: “The Obama administration unveiled historic environment rules cutting carbon pollution from power plants by 30% on Monday, spurring prospects for a global deal to end climate change but setting up an epic battle over the environment in this year’s mid-term elections.”
“The new rules, formally announced by the Environmental Protection Agency, represent the first time Barack Obama, or any other president, has moved to regulate carbon pollution from power plants – the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change.
The EPA said the regulations, which would cut carbon pollution from power plants 30% from 2005 levels by 2030, would “fight climate change while supplying America with reliable and affordable power”.
….The new rules were not as ambitious as some environmental groups had hoped. America is already a third of the way towards meeting the national average of a 30% cut in emissions. Some states, especially those in the north-east, have already exceeded the standard.
Even so, reaction from environmental groups to the new power plant rules ranged from “momentous” to “historic”. Al Gore said the new rules were “the most important step taken to combat the climate crisis in our country’s history”.
….In an initiative organised by Ceres, the green investor network, 128 companies and 49 investors managing $800 billion in assets, sent letters to the White House and leaders of both parties in Congress supporting the new rules as “a critical step” to dealing with climate change.
But a lobby group for the coal industry – which will be hit hardest by the new rules – said the regulations would hurt the economy and lead to power outages. “If these rules are allowed to go into effect, the administration, for all intents and purposes, is creating America’s next energy crisis,” the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity said.
….But emissions crept up last year and again in the first months of 2014, and the regulations would put America on course for long term and lasting cuts to carbon pollution.
….The rules could affect 1,600 power plants. About 600 of these operate on coal, including many that are nearly 50 years old and will have the most difficulty meeting the new standards.
Under the rule, states and power companies will have a range of options to meet the new standards: switching from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas; forming cap-and-trade markets; expanding renewables such as wind and solar power; or encouraging customers to use less energy by moving to more efficient heating and cooling systems and appliances.
….The 30% national target will not be applied uniformly across the country. The EPA will set individual reductions targets for each state, taking into account their energy mix, according to those briefed on the plan.
States have until 2016 to come up with a strategy for meeting the targets. However, the EPA rules will not come into force in all states until 2020, according to one individual briefed on the plan.
….The new EPA rule bypasses Congress, relying on Obama’s executive authority and supreme court decisions, to propose new rules under the Clean Air Act.
….The Chamber of Commerce, the country’s biggest business lobby, said last week the new rules would cost the economy $51bn and put 224,000 people out of work.”