Published 6/26/2103 edition of ECT.Coop, a publication of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. (NRECA)
By Cathy Cash
NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson vowed to fight the Obama administration’s renewed effort to use the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants, calling the action “a regressive new climate tax.”
“Folks in rural communities and those with low or fixed incomes already spend more of their household budget on energy; this proposal would increase their burden,” Emerson said, following President Obama’s much-anticipated address outlining a federal climate change action plan.
“The president’s proposal would be, in effect, a regressive new climate tax on America’s most economically vulnerable citizens,” Emerson said. “NRECA and America’s electric cooperatives will fight this proposal at the agency level and in the courts if necessary. If the president doesn’t recognize the need to keep electric bills affordable, we promise to bring it to his attention.”
In his “Climate Action Plan” released June 25, Obama said he would issue a memorandum directing the Environmental Protection Agency to set carbon emissions standards for both new and existing power plants.
The president wants EPA to propose a carbon standard for existing power plants by June 2014 and a final standard in 2015. EPA is expected to draft carbon regulations for new generating units by September. The agency will not finalize the carbon standard for new plants it proposed in April 2012.
Without identifying a specific carbon reduction target, Obama in his speech at Georgetown University said that carbon standards must be installed to halt power sector pollution.
The president acknowledged that 35 states already have standards to beef up renewable energy and market-based programs to cap carbon emissions from power plants within their borders. Numerous power plants have also stepped up to clean up units, modernize and burn more natural gas.
“The idea of setting higher pollution [standards] is not new. It’s just time for Washington to catch up with the rest of the country, and that’s what we intend to do,” Obama said.
The climate plan also calls for including up to $8 billion in federal loan guarantees for “a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies.”