Move over, "Old King Coal." The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the first time has announced greenhouse-gas limits for new power plants, in a move that "could end the construction of conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States," says Juliet Eilperin at The Washington Post. The EPA didn't single out coal plants, but its limits are strict enough that it's unlikely any coal plant will be able to meet them. Natural gas plants, which use a cleaner source of energy, make the grade, while the Obama administration hopes that the new rules will encourage the manufacture of plants that are powered by alternative energies. Does this mean the end of coal power?
Yes. And you can thank Obama for your huge electric bill: If you worry about rising gas prices, "wait until you see what happens to electricity," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. This is all part of Obama's plan to "drive up energy costs in order to make his favored alternatives somewhat competitive." But alternative energy can never match the "production scope of hydrocarbon sources." Don't be surprised to find people "lighting candles rather than flipping on the light switch."
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Coal is dying anyway: Coal's death has little to do with the EPA, says David Roberts at Grist. "Coal plants already aren't getting built," because natural gas is cheaper, and wind and solar prices are experiencing a "steep drop." That won't stop conservatives from accusing the EPA of imposing "job-killing regulations," but it's a "lurid fantasy" to claim that the EPA's marginal changes under Obama add up to enough to significantly affect the unemployment rate or economic growth.
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The new rules don't go far enough: This is a "baby step in the right direction," says Jeff Goodell at Rolling Stone. But the new rules apply "only to new power plants, not existing plants," so they will have "zero impact on the real problem, which is the 400 or so existing plants in America that dump 2 billion tons of carbon pollution in the atmosphere every year." And while natural gas releases less carbon dioxide, it's not exactly great for the environment. We need an economy-wide system to reduce "all major emissions sources."
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