The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


June 8, 2014

The devil’s in the details with Obama administration’s greenhouse gas proposal

ENID, Okla. — On the surface, the Obama administration’s plan to reduce so-called greenhouse gas emissions sounds fine.

By 2030, coal-fired power plants across the country will have to have to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they produce to fight global warming. It’s all very altruistic.

But, there’s considerable reason to be worried about its implementation. As the old saying goes, the devil’s in the details.

Supporters of the plan hope it means there will be fewer coal-fired power plants in the years to come. Opponents say it is a war on coal and will drive up the price of electricity.

The new restrictions will not be implemented evenly in the various states. Many states that are coal-dependent will have more lenient restrictions. One example is Kentucky, which — if it meets the new limits — would be allowed to release more carbon dioxide per unit of power than plants in 34 states do now.

EPA estimates the new rules will mean coal will provide about 30 percent of the nation’s power in 2030, down from just under 40 percent now.

How the plan will impact Oklahoma remains to be seen, although we may be sitting in pretty good shape. The Sooner State uses coal to produce 38 percent of its electricity, with natural gas providing more than half. Wind energy also is a large — and growing — provider. The amount generated by coal will go down, too, as Public Service Co. of Oklahoma already has announced plans to close two coal-fired plants in Oologah — one in 2016 and one in 2026.

We would hope that EPA is not trying to implement a new version of the carbon tax, which failed before under considerable criticism.

Part of our concern stems from issues that plagued other Obama administration plans when they were implemented. One look at how many bumps in the road snarled the implementation of health care reform gives us pause.

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