By Christopher Helman, Forbes.com
Today the Environmental Protection Agency released a long-anticipated rule proposal that seeks by 2030 to reduce America’s carbon dioxide emissions 30% from 2005 levels. (The full proposal can be found here.)
The primary mechanism for the reduction will be tough emissions limits on coal-fired power plants. The effect of the rule will most likely be the dramatic expansion of natural gas as a fuel for power generation. When burned, gas emits just half the carbon of coal.
States will have until June 30, 2016 (with the potential for some extensions) to come up with a plan on how to implement the rule and reduce their average emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity. If they refuse to play ball — as Texas Gov. Rick Perry has threatened — the EPA says it will impose its own plan.
In a departure from wording in the Clean Air Act, under which EPA derives its carbon-controlling authority, achieving reduction targets needn’t be accomplished solely by targeting power plants. Rather, emission offsets can be established outside the “fence line.”