White House set to adopt sweeping curbs on carbon pollution – by Joby Warrick (Washington Post – August 1, 2015)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/

The Obama administration will formally adopt an ambitious regulation for cutting greenhouse-gas pollution on Monday, requiring every state to reduce emissions from coal-burning power plants and putting the country on a course that could change the way millions of Americans get their electricity.

A retooled version of the administration’s Clean Power Plan, first proposed a year ago, will seek to accelerate the shift to renewable energy while setting tougher goals for slashing carbon emissions blamed for global warming, according to administration officials briefed on the details.

The new plan sets a goal of cutting carbon pollution from power plants by 32 percent by the year 2030, compared with 2005 levels — a 9 percent jump from the previous target of 30 percent — while rewarding states and utility companies that move quickly to expand their investment in solar and wind power.

Many states will face tougher requirements for lowering greenhouse-gas emissions under the revised plan. But state governments also will be given more time to meet their targets and considerably more flexibility in how they achieve their pollution-cutting goals, according to two senior officials knowledgeable about the rule. For the first time, the officials said, the plan also includes a “reliability safety valve” that can buy states additional time if needed to avoid disruptions in the power supply.

The rule — the first to regulate carbon emissions as a pollutant — is certain to face legal challenges as well as fierce opposition from the Republican-controlled Congress. Opponents blasted last year’s proposed regulation as a possibly illegal federal overreach that would impose costly burdens on utility companies and their customers.

All sides agree that the rule, if it stands, could substantially alter the U.S. energy landscape, driving the expanded use of “clean” energy while further diminishing coal’s long dominance as a source of power for homes and businesses. White House officials say Americans will see major gains in improving air quality and fighting climate change as a result.

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