Here’s Why an Obama Plan to Regulate Carbon Could Work

The EPA is expected to let states decide how to clean up their power industries.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Carolyn Kaster/AP

On June 2, the United States government will begin the single most important step it’s ever taken to fight climate change: limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, the country’s largest climate polluter.

Some fear the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations will be catastrophic, a heavy-handed big-government overreach that will drive up the price of energy. Yet some energy policy experts say those misgivings are unfounded. Indeed, there’s good reason to think the regulations can succeed.

Over the last decade, as federal climate efforts stagnated, some states pursued ambitious strategies of their own. They quietly put prices on greenhouse gases, harnessing market forces to cut carbon pollution.

“We have a ton of evidence that states have already taken action,” said Sarah Hayes, a policy analyst at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, an energy industry think tank. These programs, she says, have for the most part been successful—one multi-state program has cut pollution from power plants by 40 percent—and could serve as models for meeting federally-mandated pollution cuts. In short, the future is already here—and it seems to work.

Read the rest at Wired.

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.