With the expected June 2 announcement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fast approaching, the media turned its attention this week to the impending draft carbon regulations for existing electric power plants – and to the political battles that will likely ensue. The journalistic term for articles previewing an upcoming event is “curtain raiser,” and for EPA’s draft guideline for greenhouse gas regulation, there were plenty of curtains raised this week.
The trade newsletter Utility Dive provided this take on “what to expect” from the EPA carbon rules. And for the truly uninitiated, The New Republic offered this primer on the upcoming regulations and why they matter, in FAQ format.
The Wall Street Journal laid it all out for subscribers with this piece, which focused on expectations that the draft rule would include flexibility to allow emissions swapping such as cap-and-trade, though it might be referred to as a “budget program,” according to one source. (WSJ followed up later in the week with a focus on which year would be chosen for baseline, which has coal and utility industries “increasingly worried,” as it would be as important to the stringency of the emissions reduction as the percentage to be cut.)
For its readers, the New York Times explained the rule-making with a piece claiming that it “will spur the creation of a state cap-and-trade program forcing industry to pay for the carbon pollution it creates.” The Times then published an in-depth look at cap-and-trade in California and Europe.
The Times was not the only outlet to zoom in on existing cap-and-trade programs. Politico examined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, reporting that the upcoming EPA regulations have other states considering signing up or forming their own multi-state pacts. NPR took a look at RGGI as well, noting that the nine Northeastern states cut carbon emissions faster than expected, thanks to the falling price of natural gas.
Reuters reported on White House plans for selling the carbon reduction rule. The public appearances and private meetings undertaken by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a well orchestrated road show over the past year “mark an unprecedented campaign by the White House and the EPA to win broad public and state backing” for the air regulation, wrote Valerie Volcovici. “Both the message and the method reflect a conscious effort to avoid the problems that two years ago nearly sank Obama’s health care reform.”
The Administration was not the only one looking to shape the public’s view of the yet-to-be-announced rule. Bloomberg reported on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study predicting (predictably) that the EPA rule would be a job killer. (Though the study was based on dubious assumptions, NYT columnist Paul Krugman, on his blog, found that even the Chamber’s projected costs of carbon control were remarkably low.) In the Bloomberg article, AEE Senior Vice President Malcolm Woolf gave a contrasting business view to the Chamber’s. “We see EPA’s carbon rules as a huge opportunity to modernize our grid, and that will help the economy overall,” said Woolf. “We see this as a real opportunity.”
So does the public, AEE announced this week. At a press briefing that featured member company executives Steve Cowell of Conservation Services Group, Doug Egan of Competitive Power Ventures, and Alex Laskey of Opower, AEE revealed the findings of a new national survey, which showed high levels of public support for modernizing the electric power system with advanced energy solutions such as energy efficiency and low- and zero-emission power sources like natural gas, solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power. These technologies and others are detailed in AEE’s report, Advanced Energy Technologies for Greenhouse Gas Reduction.
“We believe that EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas emissions represents an opportunity to modernize the electric power system for the 21st century, and this new survey shows that Americans support the idea of modernizing the electric power sector by a wide margin,” said Woolf in AEE’s press release.