While there’s virtually no chance of meaningful climate legislation passing through Congress, there are meaningful climate actions that the Obama administration can take on its own. Two big ones would be regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants and from existing power plants.
But the administration is dragging its feet on both counts. A draft regulation for new plants was proposed more than a year ago, but the EPA missed a deadline this past Saturday for making it final. “EPA is likely to alter the rule in some way in an effort to make sure it can withstand a legal challenge,” The Washington Post reported on Friday, noting that the agency has not set a timetable for its finalization.
As for regulation of old power plants — which spew about one third of U.S. greenhouse gases — an EPA official said last week that the agency intends to propose a standard within 18 months.
Ten states, two major cities, and three big green groups are fed up with the delays. On Wednesday, they gave notice of their intent to sue. From the Los Angeles Times:
The jurisdictions and the environmental groups sent separate letters to the EPA … notif[ying] the regulator of the groups’ plan to sue after 60 days, if the EPA did not expedite the rules. …
The EPA proposed the rule for [new] power plants in March 2012, and under the Clean Air Act, it must issue the final version of the rule within a year of receiving public comments, the New York attorney general’s office said. But the EPA failed to meet that deadline. It has yet to give the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget at the White House, where it could be reviewed for another 120 days and, based on the progress of some other EPA rules, might be delayed indefinitely.
By finalizing the rules, the EPA would partially fulfill commitments it made in a 2011 agreement with New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman and a coalition of states to issue greenhouse gas emission standards for new and existing power plants.
Really, what’s the rush? It’s not like civilization as we know it is under imminent threat. Oh, wait …