Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama's Clean-Energy Push, New EPA Rule Will Prevail, Predicts Podesta

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Obama's Clean-Energy Push, New EPA Rule Will Prevail, Predicts Podesta

Article excerpt

US lawmakers of all political stripes are challenging new limits on carbon emissions from US power plants unveiled earlier this week, but the White House isn't backing down from what is likely the boldest action any American president has taken to combat climate change.

"We're committed to getting this done," John Podesta, counselor to President Obama, said Friday at a Monitor-hosted breakfast in Washington. "I'm quite confident we'll get our job done. I'm also quite confident we'll resist any [attempts to overturn the carbon limits]."

On Monday, the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed the new rules, which constitute - in Mr. Podesta's words - the "crown jewels" of the Climate Action Plan that Mr. Obama unveiled last summer. By 2030, the regulations aim to slash carbon emissions 30 percent from 2005 levels in the power sector - the country's biggest carbon emitter. After a year-long comment period, the EPA plans to make the new limits final next June.

Environmentalists and public-health groups cheer the new limits, but Republicans, energy-state Democrats, and industry groups warn of rising energy costs and vulnerabilities to America's electricity grid. The new rules on the power sector will cost the US economy tens of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs each year, according to a controversial report released by the US Chamber of Commerce in the lead-up to the rules' rollout.

Those are "fantasy job loss numbers" based on "a set of assumptions that have zero to do with the rule that was put on the table," said Podesta, who also served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001. The EPA's analysis found that the rules would reduce electricity bills by 8 percent and create climate and health benefits worth $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030. While there would be job losses in some sectors, a boost in clean energy construction and efficiency gains would create a net positive jobs impact, Podesta said. …

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