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U.S. President Barack Obama’s new rules to reduce carbon emissions are getting very little support from the Republican Party leadership or even some of his fellow Democrats, but are widely supported by ordinary Americans.
Speaking at the unveiling of the plan on June 2, Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the goal is to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
McCarthy stressed the policy’s flexibility, saying it will allow states several options to achieve the goal, including adopting efficient energy technology and adding alternatives like wind and solar.
Another option would be cap-and-trade programs, under which companies with high greenhouse gas emissions could buy emission allowances from companies with fewer emissions in an effort to reduce their combined impact on the environment.
McCarthy said this flexibility makes the program “ambitious but achievable,” adding, “That’s how we can keep our energy affordable and reliable. The glue that holds this plan together — and the key to making it work — is that each state’s goal is tailored to its own circumstances, and states have the flexibility to reach their goal in whatever way works best for them.”
Senior Republican officials immediately condemned the plan, and even some Democrats in Congress – notably those who represent, or are running for election in, states with coal and other energy industries – criticized it, including Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky, who is challenging incumbent Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
Despite the political opposition, a poll by The Washington Post and ABC News found 70 percent popular support for limits on carbon emissions. The survey, conducted shortly before the plan was announced, also found support from 63 percent of respondents for such an effort even if, hypothetically, it caused their own energy expenses to rise by $20 a month.
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com