EPA Emissions Rule to Mandate Limits Beyond Proposed Targets


WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama on Monday will mandate steep cuts to power-plant carbon emissions, as he unveils his administration’s signature initiative to combat climate change and sets in motion sweeping changes to the country’s electricity industry.

Utilities and Republican lawmakers are already gearing up for a fight, promising lawsuits and legislative efforts aimed at derailing what the Obama administration calls the most significant action this country has taken to address climate change. More than a dozen states and the coal industry, which is expected to be hardest hit by the new regulations, have vowed to sue the Environmental Protection Agency. Several states have threatened to refuse to comply with the rule.

The administration’s plan will force the utility industry to shift toward cleaner-burning energy sources for decades to come as the EPA sets the first-ever limits on greenhouse gases from power plants, requiring a 32% cut in emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. 

The target is ambitious, requiring deeper cuts than the 30% proposed in a draft rule released last year. It also seeks to prevent a further shift from coal to natural gas in electricity generation. Over the last few years, utilities have been shifting to natural gas, which produces 50% less carbon emissions than coal but still more than zero-emitting sources like wind and nuclear power. That shift has been helped along by the domestic boom in gas production since 2008. (by COLLEEN MCCAIN NELSON and AMY HARDER, Wall Street Journal)