Saturday, April 25, 2015

Random impressions following the Obama's move on climate

  • In addition to the 30% reduction by 2030, the rule includes interim reduction averages over the years 2020-2029, a good means of preventing a combination of delaying and then claiming compliance is impossible.
  • There's a very early deadline for this proposed rule, June 30, 2016 for states to submit their proposals. I think this will play into the legal maneuvering. States and fossil fuel corporations will not only have to sue when the rule is finalized next year, they'll have to win preliminary injunctions to stop the law. If they don't get PIs, then time is on the side of good guys - litigation can drag on as long as possible but the states will still have to reduce emissions in the interim, and after a while they will have reduced incentive to fight the regulation. (Disclaimer- my usual one, I'm not a Clean Air Act lawyer.)
  • The proposed rule includes an alternate proposal that just regulates the generating plants and doesn't rely on efficiency and renewable energy. This sounds to me like a reference to the legal question of whether the EPA can look "outside the fence" of the generating plant to achieve emission reductions. It seems like a warning, that doing it this way could be a lot more expensive but feasible. That may be a warning against the attempt we've seen repeatedly to run up the cost of regulation in order to kill it.
  • Leafing through the rule, page 57 says the air pollution benefits outweigh costs even setting aside all climate benefits. So much for the stupid arguments that skeptics have been making to date.
  • Some commenters have noted the parallel between this rule and Obamacare in terms of maximizing authority for the states. Can't find where I read it, but somebody also noted the likely parallel that some states will refuse to submit a plan to achieve the goals. So did the EPA, saying "If a state with affected EGUs does not submit a plan, or if the EPA does not approve a state’s plan, then, under CAA section 111(d)(2)(A), the EPA must establish a plan for that state." AFAICT that sentence stands alone - they may need to spell it out in a little greater detail.
  • Jamelle Bouie says that national Republicans have themselves to blame for this regulation, because they are the ones that stopped cap-and-trade or any serious possibility for a carbon tax. Cap-and-trade included provisions making a transition to a lower-carbon economy easier on the poor, but Republicans are now crying crocodile tears over that problem (while ignoring the health benefits).
  • China is now engaging in a discussion over whether to cap their emissions, planning the cap in the next five year plan and hitting it in 2030. That's not enough, but it's something and I think American action can help Chinese proponents of action.