EPA proposal on coal power plants creates hot air

Opinions and rhetoric were breaking largely among the usual party lines Monday after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by nearly a third by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“The president’s plan is nuts, there’s really no more succinct way to describe it. Americans are still asking ‘where are the jobs?’ and here he is proposing rules to ship jobs overseas for years to come. Americans are already paying more for everything and here he is condemning them to higher bills and lower incomes long after he leaves office.

“In many ways, this national energy tax is actually worse than the scheme Americans rejected four years ago. While the president may have kept his promise to make prices ‘skyrocket,’ it doesn’t have to be inevitable. The House has already passed legislation to prevent these rules from taking effect without the approval of the people’s representatives. The question now is: will Senate Democrats listen to the American people and stop this disaster or will they back the president all the way?”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“Climate change is one of the most pressing dangers facing us today. This accelerating crisis threatens our coasts, our crops and our communities – and its damaging and destabilizing effects are already being felt across our nation and around the world.

“The destructive effect of unrestrained carbon pollution is felt not only in rising temperatures and increased, more powerful natural disasters, but also in higher asthma rates in our children. We already restrict mercury and arsenic pollution – it’s time we did the same for toxic carbon pollution. These new standards will strengthen public health, create new jobs, spur innovation and lower electricity rates.

“Like the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, these actions by the Administration send a resounding message to the world that the United States is serious about dealing with climate change. The Clean Air Act is an appropriate, bipartisan approach to protect people from pollution, and today’s standards build on a foundation of decades of bipartisan laws, including the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed by President Bush.

“We have a moral obligation to act to preserve the beauty of God’s creation for future generations. With these flexible plans to cut carbon pollution, our nation is taking a bold and serious step towards securing a sustainable future for all of us.”

Lots more from familiar California and Bay Area figures, after the jump…

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“While others delay and deny, the Obama Administration is confronting climate change head-on with these new standards. Clean energy policies are already working in California, generating billions of dollars in energy savings and more than a million jobs. Bold, sustained action will be required at every level and this is a major step forward.”

From former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“You only need to look at the decades of scientific research and at the epic droughts and superstorms to know that we can’t wait any longer to take action on climate change.

“I applaud President Obama for using every tool at his disposal and not waiting for Congress or a new international treaty. California and nine eastern states have used similar policies, including an effective cap-and-trade system, which can serve as a national model to help our country achieve the President’s goals.

“The experiences of those states also prove that this is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s a people issue. I hope that the President’s action today is just the first step toward a sustainable energy future.”

From U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“The President’s proposal is a win-win-win for the American people, as it will protect our health, saving thousands of lives, create thousands of jobs, and America will finally lead on a path to averting the most calamitous impacts of climate change — such as sea level rise, dangerous heat waves, and economic disruption. Thank goodness the President refuses to be bullied by those who have their heads in the sand, and whose obstruction is leading us off the climate change cliff. The President’s proposal is respectful of the states’ roles and allows major flexibility, while ensuring that big polluters reduce their dangerous contributions to climate change.”

“The people of California and the people of America deserve to be protected and the President should be lauded for moving forward.”

From House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield:

“What are the President’s real priorities? Is it to help put Americans back to work or to please the narrow environmental lobby at the expense of our economy and everyday Americans? He is acting now to impose cap-and-trade that Congress rejected in 2010, and he is doing it unilaterally. This is uncalled for, unnecessary, and harmful to our economy, which just saw negative economic growth for the first time since 2011. While the President and his advisors believe this regulation to be a legacy builder, it will no doubt be a job killer for communities across the country. House Republicans, along with many Democrats, will continue to fight the President’s agenda to ‘necessarily skyrocket electricity prices’ by considering legislation that will reduce energy costs for all Americans and encourage job creation throughout our economy.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

“Turning the tide of dangerous climate change by placing sensible limits on carbon pollution from power plants is simply the right thing to do.

“In California, climate change is already threatening our communities. The risks will only get worse if we don’t take action. We simply can’t afford to sit by and watch as drought, and rising sea levels, take their toll on our economy, environment, and health. It is our responsibility to do all we can to protect this, and future, generations.

“This is why I authored the Climate Change Education Act—legislation aimed at improving public understanding of the impact of greenhouse gases on our environment, and the steps that individuals and communities can take to help avert the global climate change crisis. We need a forward-thinking energy policy more than ever. Embracing my role as Silicon Valley’s representative, I believe that new technologies are the key to our energy future. I am an outspoken advocate for clean, efficient, and sustainable energy solutions in Congress. As a member of both the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition and the Safe Climate Caucus, I am an ardent believer in solar energy, supporting R&D to improve efficiency and to reduce manufacturing costs; advanced batteries, which are key to making renewable sources a reliable part of our energy supply; and efficient technologies such as solid state lighting, which can drastically reduce energy consumption. I know that we must remain committed to taking bold steps if we are going to reshape our energy mix into one that can last.

“Today, the Administration took a big step forward in doing just that – with new clean air safeguards that will cut carbon pollution from power plants for the first time. Previously, the EPA has successfully set sensible limits on mercury, soot, arsenic, and other toxics, while supporting continued economic growth. Stopping power plants from dumping unlimited amounts of dangerous carbon pollution into the air is no different.

“The EPA’s flexible approach will empower states to develop custom solutions to meet this national challenge, through cooperation, innovation, and a shared commitment to a cleaner, safer, healthier future for all Americans.”

From Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

“Climate change is one of the most serious issues facing our nation and our planet, and the science makes clear that greenhouse gases from human activity are the number one contributor. The EPA proposal gets to the heart of the problem by curbing harmful greenhouse gas pollution with smart policy grounded in the 1970 Clean Air Act. It will propel a U.S. clean energy economy, create jobs, and make the United States a global leader in clean energy use. Amid record drought, extreme weather, declining public health, and rising temperatures, inaction is not an option. I wholeheartedly welcome this prudent proposal.”

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez:

“This new rule takes us one huge step closer to a healthier, cleaner and more prosperous America. Limiting carbon pollution will save lives, help combat climate change, and spur new clean energy jobs and innovation. I’m pleased to see the Administration moving forward with strong and scientifically sound action that gives states the flexibility they need to meet this critical challenge.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.