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The EPA’s Carbon Plan Asks The Least From States That Pollute The Most

Publication Date: 
July 16, 2014
The Washington Post - Wonkblog
Philip Wallach and Alex Abdun-Nabi

Professor Michael Wara weighs in on the possible effects of recent EPA legislation for The Washington Post.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is undoubtedly one of the biggest regulatory events in decades. The proposed rule under the Clean Air Act is the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s strategy to address climate change, and its champions laud it as an important step in combating climate change and a boon to public health, while its detractors say it represents a war on coal and an abuse of executive power.

The rule provides every state with a target carbon-emissions intensity for its power plants, with preliminary standards kicking in by 2020 and full goals to be achieved by 2030. But where do those targets come from, and how demanding are they?


The state-based unfairness built into the EPA’s formulas is yet another reason why it would be preferable to pursue a different approach to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Stanford’s Michael Wara puts it well, saying that the rule’s mind-bending complexity “makes a fantastic argument for legislative action to implement a simpler and more cost-effective policy,” most probably a nationwide carbon tax taking the place of EPA regulation.