EPA moves ahead on climate plans despite Supreme Court challenge
EPA officials were in Philadelphia Friday to get public feedback for the next phase of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan: limiting carbon emissions from currently operating power plants.
The EPA has already put rules on the table seeking to curb emissions from all new coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. That proposal is being challenged by several states that argue the federal government doesn’t have the authority to issue such regulations. The EPA says it is directed to create guidelines for states to create their own programs to address carbon pollution.
The Obama administration is targeting power plants because they are some of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas.
“Fifty, one hundred years ago we didn’t understand the down sides of burning fossil fuel, but we do now so we must move ahead,” said Joy Bergey, Federal Policy Director with the environmental group PennFuture.
But it can be a bitter pill to swallow in major energy-producing states like Pennsylvania. The industry that’s feeling the biggest pressure from federal regulators is coal.
“Many of us in our industry always feel like we’re a target,” said Tom Crooks.
Crooks is Vice President of R.G. Johnson, a company in Washington County that sinks mine shafts.
“We want time to innovate because we need time to innovate,” said Crooks, who argues the coal industry has already been working on cleaning up its act for decades. “This is not something that can be done in the next couple years.”
Environmental groups like PennFuture and others in attendance at Friday’s hearing say the Obama administration cannot afford to wait to address climate change.
But the final carbon regulations may be several years off yet. The coal industry is supporting a Supreme Court challenge that is taking up the question of whether the EPA has the right to regulate emissions from smokestacks like it did with tailpipes on cars and trucks.