President Obama Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, will announce new regulations on existing power plants to curb greenhouse gases. Details are beginning to leak in different news stories. Here's a handy run-down of what we know so far.
1. The regulations will be two-tiered: the plan will give states flexibility, will propose relatively modest reductions in the next 4 to 5 years, and will aim for a total of 25% reduction in greenhouse gases in the next 15 years. Each state will have its own target and a menu of options to implement it - cap and trade, carbon tax, etc.
2. Talk of percentage reductions is meaningless without context - 25% reduction compared to 1990 (the UN benchmark year), 2005 (a peak year, thus favored by coal industry), 2012 (which environmentalists want), or 1850 (dream on)? See major update below.
3. Other countries' response will be muted - "Emerging economies including China and India are likely to be lukewarm because they have often said that Obama's plans for emissions cuts until 2020 - even if fully implemented - are far short of the curbs they say are needed by the rich."
5. Activists focused on the Keystone XL pipeline won't be happy.
6. Neither will Republicans. Don't listen to them. They're not scientists, and they're not economists either. They're going to roll out the tired old tropes that the regulations will destroy the economy. They're wrong. They've always been wrong and they'll be wrong this time. Even their own Chamber of Commerce finds that the cost of carbon regulation is cheap - one-fifth of one percent per household per year.
7. Even if the plan won't do enough - and, given the magnitude of the climate crisis, can anything ever be "enough"? - Democrats need to support the President on this one. It's the signature domestic policy initiative of his second term, much as healthcare reform was the legacy of his first term. Smart Democrats are pushing the party to go on offense: Republicans are ideologically incapable of offering solutions to the country's major challenges. Smart climate groups are flexing their political muscle. Join us.
Major update: The plan will cut emissions 30% (a bigger number than proposed) from 2005 levels (a higher starting point than some would like) by 2030, per WSJ.