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Climate Change: The EPA Has Gone Overboard

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Reducing carbon emissions is clearly good for the environment but often imposes substantial costs.  The costs are most obvious when coal companies go bankrupt, but can affect everyone indirectly through higher energy costs, slower economic growth, reduced employment, and lower business profits.   Has the Environmental Protection Agency considered the costs and benefits of its regulatory mandates fairly and appropriately? Is its Clean Power Plan a bold initiative to reduce carbon pollution at power plants, or an unconstitutional usurpation of power?

Clean Power Plan

Overview of the Clean Power Plan.

Environmental Protection Agency

We're acting to make a difference on climate change.

Environmental Protection Agency

How did the EPA actually come up with each state's emissions target? Why does every state have a different target? What, exactly, can states do to cut emissions? What if they want to work together? If states refuse, what sort of federal plan gets handed down from on high?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Brad Plumer
Tuesday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay, halting implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan pending the resolution of legal challenges to the program in court. Read the follow-up post that summarizes some of the legal and policy issues surrounding the CPP.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Jonathan H. Adler
This report provides background information on EPA regulatory activity during the Obama Administration.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
James E. McCarthy and Claudia Copeland

This report summarizes the Clean Power Plan rule as it was finalized on August 3, 2015, before discussing how the ongoing litigation may potentially impact the rule and its deadlines. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
James E. McCarthy, Jonathan L. Ramseur, Jane A. Leggett, Alexandra M. Wyatt and Alissa M. Dolan
Clean Air Act
The Clean Air Act (CAA) is the comprehensive federal law that regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources. Among other things, this law authorizes EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and public welfare and to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
Environmental Protection Agency
EPA regulations will largely target coal-fired power plants, and the costs of more expensive energy will be borne by all Americans. Higher energy bills for families, individuals, and businesses will destroy jobs and strain economic growth—and it will all be for naught. The regulations will have a negligible impact—if any—on global temperatures.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Nicolas Loris
The EPA acts as though it has the legislative authority to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Laurence Tribe

The president and his partisans insist that these measures are necessary to prevent catastrophic global warming. But global warming is, famously, a global issue, and even steep cuts in one sector of one country’s economy many years in the future will have only a minuscule effect on global atmospheric conditions.

Monday, August 3, 2015
But it’s been taken for granted on both sides that the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft regulations, expected to be finalized this summer, would smash the status quo. Actually, they’re pretty weak.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Michael Grunwald

A historic opportunity to reduce carbon pollution from the single largest source of U.S. global warming emissions. 

Union of Concerned Scientists
Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Gerard Baker spoke with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation.
Monday, March 30, 2015

Public Citizen finds that households’ electricity bills will actually go down in every state affected by the rule.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Ben Adler

The coal companies and states challenging the plan have crafted a legal argument that essentially focuses on one core assertion: that the rule is "unprecedented." But history suggests otherwise.

Friday, April 15, 2016
Richard Revesz
Economic Costs & Benefits of Regulation

Environmental regulations do impose compliance costs on businesses, and can raise prices, which hurt economic growth. But they also create jobs by requiring pollution clean-up and prevention efforts. And they save the economy billions by avoiding pollution’s deleterious health effects.

Friday, May 3, 2013
Jeff Spross

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) forthcoming climate change regulations for new and existing electricity generating units have been appropriately labeled the “war on coal,”[1] because the proposed limits for carbon dioxide emissions would essentially prohibit the construction of new coal-fired power plants and force existing ones into early retirement.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Nicolas Loris and Filip Jolevski
In the absence of global action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the United States by the end of the century may face up to $180 billion in economic losses because of drought and water shortages, according to a report released Monday by the White House and Environmental Protection Agency.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Coral Davenport
State Sovereignty
The states contended that they are being coerced into becoming a part of the new enforcement approach, and that this intrudes on their fundamental sovereign power to regulate electricity generation and transmission inside each state’s borders.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Lyle Denniston
Related SCOTUS Cases

The Supreme Court ruled greenhouse gases are air pollutants and the EPA may regulate their emission and required the EPA to provide justification to avoid regulations of carbon dioxide. Read the opinion here

The Supreme Court held the EPA acted unreasonably in deeming cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants. Read the opinion here.