The First Step: EPA Will Require New Coal Plants to Curb CO2 Emissions

Do you hear that? The simultaneous sounds of cheers and jeers? That's what we'll be hearing for quite some time now that the US EPA finally released their draft rule regulating carbon emissions from new power plants. The rule has gone through some changes since it was first proposed – that's to say, it was made just a little bit friendlier to the power industry – but it remains a big, and fairly strict, step forward in cutting down the outsized carbon emissions from coal-fired plants in particular.

Opponents are reacting predictably, claiming that the rule will "hamper economic growth and job creation, and could lead to higher energy costs for American families and businesses," while forgetting to mention that cheap natural gas, not an EPA regulation, is their real combatant in the so-called War on Coal.

In her Friday announcement of the rule at the National Press Club (which you can view online), EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said,

We have proven time after time that setting fair Clean Air Act standards to protect public health does not cause the sky to fall. The economy does not crumble…40 years of Clean Air Act history proves we can reduce pollution, while at the same time creating jobs and strengthening the economy.

Don't expect the coal industry to agree. This is just the first of two big regulatory battles, and next year the real fight begins when the EPA is expected to release its draft rules for reducing carbon emissions from existing power plants. In the meantime, expect the jeers to grow louder from coal supporters who aren't too keen about their favorite industry finally being asked to clean up its act.