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VIEWPOINT Climate change and power plants: Cure might be worse than disease BY A N T H O N Y J. A H E R N ON JUNE 25TH, PRESIDENT OBAMA, in what was billed as a major speech regarding his environmental agenda, reiterated his view that climate change is a significant global threat. He then declared his determination to tackle the issue by setting a timetable for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue separate carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emission rules for new and existing coal-fired power plants. It is an exaggeration to call this a major announcement by the president. In reality, provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) already had been triggered in April 2012 with publication of an EPA draft rule aimed at restricting CO 2 emissions from new coal- and natural gas-fired generating facilities. This set in motion certain statutory deadlines that were not met by the EPA. In fact, the coal and power industries — and environmentalists — waited more than one year for the EPA’s final new source rule, and they still haven’t seen it in final form. A reasonable question, since climate change is such a critically important issue to President Obama, is how could the EPA have failed to issue the CO 2 rules in a timely manner and within the statutory deadline? The answer is that the CAA requires these rules be based on proven technologies. Today’s proven technologies offer just minimal CO 2 reductions. It seems likely the EPA would have lifted every rock in searching for ways to write rules that would produce major CO 2 reductions, especially from existing coal-fired units. The fact that the EPA missed important deadlines indicates the difficulty of following the path they have voluntarily chosen. President Obama has now publicly established a timetable for carbon rules affecting new and existing coal-fired plants. This action may be intended to placate environmental advocates wanting to see coal-fired units regulated out of business. But to avoid issuing rules that the courts might overturn as inconsistent with the CCA, the EPA is not likely to produce regulations that will result in major CO 2 reductions. This is likely to infuriate those looking for strict rules and more plant closings. The irony here is that the decades-old CAA, which doesn’t specifically mention CO 2 , appears to contain provisions that protect the people from an administration that would otherwise be willing to drive the nation toward an unproven cure (greatly reduced fossil fuel use without adequate substitutes) worse than the disease (global CO 2 increases and the admission that emissions will continue to grow regardless of what the U.S. does). It will be interesting to see how the EPA develops these rules within the president’s timetable. Why didn’t regulators and the White House see the stumbling blocks in the very instrument, the CAA, they decided to use to achieve their goals? 2 COUNTRY LIVING • AUGUST 2013 Volume 55, No. 11 August 2013 Contact us: Anthony Ahern Steve Oden Rich Warren John Howley Chris Hall Bernice Mattison Nikki Heath Adam Specht Margie Wuebker Chip Gross President & CEO Dir. of Comm. Managing Editor Comm. Manager Art & Prod. Manager Publications Coord. Graphic Artist Comm. Specialist Food Editor Outdoors Editor COUNTRY LIVING (ISSN 0747-0592) is the official publication of Ohio Rural Electric Co- operatives, Inc. With a paid circulation of 294,786, it is the monthly communication link between the rural elec tric cooperatives in Ohio and West Virginia and their members. Subscription price: $4.30 to $6.50 per year to co-op members; $12 per year to nonmem- bers. Nothing in this publication may be re- produced in any manner without specific written permission from Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. All rights reserved. Alliance for Audited Media Member National advertising representatives: NATIONAL COUNTRY MARKET, 800-NCM-1181 State advertising representatives: Sandy Woolard 614-403-1653 Tim Dickes 614-855-5226 The fact that a product is advertised in Country Living should not be taken as an endorsement. If you find an ad- vertisement misleading or a product unsatisfactory, please notify us or the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Section, 30 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215, or call 1-800-282-0515. Cooperative members — Please report any change of address to your local electric cooperative. Periodicals postage paid at Columbus, OH and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to editorial and advertising offices at: 6677 Busch Boulevard Columbus, OH 43229-1101 Telephone — 614-846-5757 Serving on the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc., Board of Trustees are George Brake, chairman; Dennis W. Schindler, vice chairman; Jack Schmidt, secretary/treasurer; Stephen Huff, Paul Berridge, Thomas McQuiston, Robert McCort, Donald McCracken, Jack L. Kitchel, Daniel McNaull, Robert E. Wise, Shirley J. Stutz, David Corbin, Barry Jolliff, Warren Taylor, James R. McConnell, Gene McCluer, Mitch Headley, John Saxton, Edward P. Sanders, Harold E. Cooper, Larry Weirich, Jeff Wilson and David P. Miller. Anthony J. Ahern, president; Kurt Helfrich, counsel.