On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency is going to announce new rules for existing coal-fired power plants, most likely a 20 percent reduction in allowable carbon dioxide emissions. The only way this will be possible will be by upgrading almost all combustion units, and the ultimate cost of the upgrades will make coal noncompetitive with much-less-expensive natural gas–fired facilities.
EPA’s proposed new greenhouse-gas regulations are a campaign promise come true. In 2008, Senator Barack Obama announced that, if elected, his climate policies would “necessarily bankrupt” anyone who wanted to build a new coal-fired power plant.
Public comments on EPA’s proposal to do just that closed on May 9, and there is no chance that the president will renege — or that this policy will have any detectable effect on global temperature.