Section 202 of the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate any pollutant which in their judgment may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. Previously this had been applied to acute respiratory toxins such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides or substances which contribute to their formation.
After an extended court battle the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2007 in favor of the EPA that regulating green house gases (GHG) is a requisite part of the EPA’s mandate. Greenhouse gases, principally Carbon Dioxide trap heat in the atmosphere and because of the threat of global warming endanger the public health and welfare.
Rule making took several more years but now the regulations have begun to roll. The first to feel regulation was new power plants which had to meet stringent emissions standards. Likewise emissions standards for new cars continue to rise.
The most recent regulations require a national average reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions of 30 % by 2030. The rule is actually 50 different rules, one for each state. And the mandate is not for any particular method to reduce emissions, just that they must be reduced.
Because Arkansas has above average reliance on coal fired power which emits the lion’s share of carbon, our required reduction amounts to 44 %. This may sound like a lot but remember we have 15 years to achieve this level of reduction.
Almost half this reduction can be achieved at little to no cost to the consumer. A study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy found that nearly half that emission reduction can come about by increased energy efficiency. Whereas the reduced demand for power will mean a small loss of jobs as coal fired power plants close, many more jobs will be created for the necessary technology improvements to greater efficiency.
Generally the public is in agreement with the scientific community about threat of global warming. So how about the “ruling class?” Both the Republican and the Democrat, Asa Hutchinson and Mike Ross have spoken against the rule. Similarly an interim legislative committee, Insurance and Commerce, hase passed a resolution condemning the EPA rule as illegitimate. Cries of violation of “states rights” rang through the halls.
In reality the only serious argument is that clean air and a stable environment for the future MAY cost somewhat. Let it be noted that every regulatory action to clean our air and water has been met with cries that to do so will crash our economy. It hasn’t happened yet, not with removing lead from gasoline, nor with preventing acid rain, and now not with mitigating the risk of global warming.
So why the dire warnings from politicians? A 2014 study conducted by the Sierra Club and Oil Change International found that for every dollar the fossil fuel industry contributes to candidates, it reaps 59 dollars in subsidies. Follow the money.