Last week, I wrote about the plan that is meant to be President Obama’s key environmental legacy: the Climate Action Plan, which, because the president has some problems with Congress, bypasses new legislation entirely. Instead, it uses the Clean Air Act and the EPA to set new benchmarks that will regulate carbon emissions standards on a state-by-state basis.
Each state would have its own benchmark to reach, based on its current emissions, and each would choose how it gets there: through cleaning up existing power plants, closing down the highest emitters and shifting electrical generation to cleaner ones, or just improving energy efficiency throughout the state.
While this plan is not exactly on the lips of every American, it is controversial enough that the EPA decided to hold “Listening Sessions” across the country. With these events, EPA aimed to check the pulse of America -- or at least say it had really tried to check the pulse of America -- before writing the new benchmarks.
I went to a listening session in Philadelphia. I was curious: I had been hearing that listening sessions were being packed with persons bused in by various industries. I had also heard that they were being criticized for being limited in number, and for being mostly located in big cities that were by their nature more full of humans who use energy than those who are involved in digging it out of the ground and setting it on fire. That, at any rate, was the argument for why busing in coal miners and power plant employees was an appropriate response to the agency's choice of venues.