Quite a few sites I follow have noted that Obama will make a significant policy announcement on Monday. He is going to propose regulations for existing power plants. These plants are the source of 40% of US’ carbon dioxide emissions, so the regulations could have a dramatic impact on the country’s contribution to climate change. I imagine most major news outlets will provide coverage next week, but there is lots of information already available, if you are interested.
- Scientific American, reprinting Climate Wire, provides a semi-brief primer on the policy (1,300 words).
- Brad Plumer at the new Vox.com has a slightly longer primer (2,000 words). Plus, Vox has their “cards” to provide additional background and further reading sources.
- There probably are shorter summaries out there, but the regulations will be complicated, so it is hard to cover concisely.
Predictably, not many talking heads are waiting to actually see the proposal before pontificating. The Chamber of Commerce has already issued a report saying that it will be the end of the world. Fortunately, this report has quickly been countered by two of my favorite writers, Jonathan Chait and Paul Krugman:
- Chait at the New Yorker points out some of the questionable assumptions in the report.
- Krugman at the New York Times highlights how the big scary numbers the Chamber tosses about are not really scary at all.
Long story short, the Chamber’s numbers are probably over-estimating the real cost. Further, even using the worst numbers, the US economy can easily cope and adjust. I’ve said it before, but the technical hurdles are solvable. There will be costs, but those are manageable as well. It is the drive and desire to overcome the status quo bias that is the only real problem.
Edit: 17 Jun 14, corrected spelling of Brad Plumer’s name.