- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2014

Two days before his administration releases controversial new rules limiting carbon emissions from power plants, President Obama on Saturday defended the looming regulations and said they’re a necessary step in the larger fight against climate change.

But a bipartisan coalition in Congress, along with many in the energy industry, argue the new regulations — which will limit how much carbon existing power plants can emit — will deal a death blow to the U.S. coal industry, and also will drive up the cost of electricity for American consumers.

The White House disputes those claims, and Mr. Obama is going on the offensive to convince average Americans in coal-reliant states and elsewhere across the country that his plan to fight climate change actually will help the economy, not hurt it.

“Special interest and their allies in Congress will claim that these guidelines will kill jobs and crush the economy. Let’s face it, that’s what they always say,” the president said in his weekly address. “But every time America has set clear rules and better standards for our air, our water and our children’s health — the warnings of the cynics have been wrong. They warned that doing something about the smog choking our cities, and acid rain poisoning our lakes, would kill business. It didn’t. Our air got cleaner, acid rain was cut dramatically, and our economy kept growing.”

Environmental Protection Agency officials will unveil the new regulations on Monday. In addition to specific limits on power plants, the rules are widely expected — according to some in the environmental community and energy industry — to call for as much as a 20 percent reduction in overall carbon emissions by 2020.

The proposal likely will give states some options in determining how to meet the new thresholds.

States could meet the goal by moving to more renewable energy sources such as wind or solar or by joining regional “cap-and-trade” systems, such as the agreement in place among 10 northeastern states.

The administration will sell the proposal as one that gives states a great deal of flexibility, but critics say the end result will be the same — the end of coal as a power-generation source.

“The administration has set out to kill coal and its 800,000 jobs. If it succeeds in death by regulation, we’ll all be paying a lot more money for electricity — if we can get it,” Sen. Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican, said in the weekly GOP address. “Our pocketbook will be lighter, but our country will be darker.”