White House on a Green Streak

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Big environmental initiatives are coming fast as the presidential term nears its end, including a powerful rule limiting power plant emissions.

Federal-level action on the environment can really shift the reality on the ground, and the news coming out of Washington lately is surprisingly positive.

A couple weeks ago, the EPA announced $20 billion in “Green Bank” funding to finance cleaner energy on a large scale, which was followed on Earth Day by another $7 billion for small-scale solar installations in underserved communities. This completes the $27 billion authorized in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Then there was the news on April 12 that the feds will be revamping the mining and drilling royalties scheme that was over a century old and amounted to a huge subsidy to extractive industries, which already receive massive handouts. On April 19, the Biden Administration severely restricted drilling and mining in Alaskan wilderness, but on April 25 made it easier to build electric transmission lines that will be essential to keeping up with electric demand as we shift from fossil fuels to green electricity. In March, the EPA ratcheted down vehicle tailpipe limits, the largest U.S. source of greenhouse gas emissions, a move that will encourage more electric vehicle sales.

Coal, an environmentally disastrous fuel from mining to burning to waste disposal, could essentially disappear from the grid. … This is amazing news for human health and the environment, as EPA estimates the benefits of the rule at $390 billion, versus a cost to industry of $19 billion.

Perhaps the biggest announcement was April 25, when the White House announced strict rules that would reduce emissions from power plants to the point where coal, an environmentally disastrous fuel from mining to burning to waste disposal, could essentially disappear from the grid. (Two additional rules clamped down on mercury emissions from coal and coal ash.) The coal rule — and probably most others — is certain to be challenged in court, and could be reversed by a future administration, but represents a clear message to industry: Coal, already being wiped out by cheaper natural gas and renewables, is basically over in the U.S. This is amazing news for human health and the environment, as EPA estimates the benefits of the rule at $390 billion, versus a cost to industry of $19 billion.

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As a whole, these rules and initiatives could make a big dent in climate change, and that really is good news.

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Jim Miller
Jim Miller
Jim Miller, co-editor of Bluedot San Diego and Bluedot Santa Barbara, has been an environmental economist for over 25 years, in the private sector, academia, and the public service. He enjoys sharing his knowledge through freelance writing, and has been published in The Washington Post and Martha’s Vineyard magazine. He’s always loved nature and the outdoors, especially while on a bicycle.
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