Back in the dark days of the Bush “administration”, the EPA was prohibited by the science-hating Bushies from controlling CO2 emissions. Elections, as Bush famously said, have consequences. In this case, the 2008 election means that the EPA will review the CO2 emissions control policy.
At a minimum, over 100 planned coal plants will be immediately impacted. If CO2 is, as it should be, regulated by the EPA as pollution, the costs of operating a coal power plant will finally begin to more closely reflect reality. Coal plants have operated for yeas at a lopsided advantage over other types of plants. As a mature industry, coal should be able to pay for itself. It should not receive any more taxpayer dollars and should instead by charged to operate according to its real costs on society and the planet.
More generally, operating costs for everybody will go up in the short term as those costs are passed along. That, in turn, will have a direct influence on the imperative to develop clean energy infrastructure that doesn’t have the same costs associated with it. The “sky-is-falling’ message will be incessant from the over-indulged coal industry. Keep the following in mind as they gear up their multi-million dollar marketing campaigns: more jobs will be created and maintained with renewable energy; the health of people will improve with time as old coal plants are shuttered; our emissions of climate change-forcing gases will slow down and eventually decrease.
Kudos to the Obama administration. This won’t be a silver-bullet solution, but it is one step in the correct direction.