Putting EPA’s announcement on CO2 from power plants in context: A word on the EPA announcement today, since as usual most of what I read in the mainstream press is obscure or misleading. Also, everyone feels the need to quote History's Greatest Moron, James Inhofe. Why is that?
Today's announcement wasn't a huge deal -- it's just a timeline.... But the larger subject of greenhouse gas regs for existing pollution sources like power plants and oil refineries is a big deal.... EPA is proceeding on two separate tracks. The first track is a permitting program for new (or substantially upgraded) sources.... Today's announcement, by contrast, was about the second track, which will apply to existing sources.... [T]oday's announcement was just about two of the biggest: power plants and oil refineries, which together account for about 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. EPA didn't announce the standards themselves, but rather a timeline for when they will be announced and implemented.... Today's announcement means that a lot of existing sources that were "grandfathered" (i.e., exempted) under the original Clean Air Act -- in particular, dirty old coal plants -- are now going to have to clean up for the first time ever. That's a sea change.
Bottom line: This latest development is one more step in the march toward finally getting large existing sources of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants to clean up. But the real action will come next year, when the standards themselves are announced. Stay tuned!