Congress has refused to pass legislation restricting carbon emissions, so President Obama is doing it on his own. He has decreed what is being called a “war on coal”:
The Obama administration took aim at the coal industry on Monday by mandating a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions at fossil fuel-burning power plants by 2030 — despite claims the regulation will cost nearly a quarter-million jobs a year and force plants across the country to close.
The controversial regulation is one of the most sweeping efforts to tackle global warming by this or any other administration.
The 645-page rule, expected to be final next year, is a centerpiece of President Obama’s climate change agenda, and a step that the administration hopes will get other countries to act when negotiations on a new international treaty resume next year.
While the plan drew praise from environmental groups, the coal industry was immediately suspect.
Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, said he’s “certain that it will be very bad news for states like Kentucky who mine and use coal to create electricity.”
The draft regulation sidesteps Congress, where Obama’s Democratic allies have failed to pass a so-called “cap-and-trade” plan to limit such emissions.Under the plan, states could have until 2017 to submit a plan to cut power plant pollution, and 2018 if they join with other states to tackle the problem, according to the EPA’s proposal.
States are expected to be allowed to require power plants to make changes such as switching from coal to natural gas or enact other programs to reduce demand for electricity and produce more energy from renewable sources.
They also can set up pollution-trading markets as some states already have done to offer more flexibility in how plants cut emissions.
If a state refuses to create a plan, the EPA can make its own.
There are lots of issues here: the global warming fears, the balance between environmental and economic issues, the nature of environmentalism, etc. But I’m struck by a different question: How can it be lawful and constitutional for a President who fails to get his agenda approved by Congress to implement it anyway?