What the Editorials Say about the Clean Power Plan

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched its final version of the Clean Power Plan this week ... and the reviews are in from America's editorial boards. By my review through Thursday morning, the count was 39-6 in favor of the federal plan to reduce carbon pollution and related ill health effects.

From America's largest newspapers - including the New York Times, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times - to some of the smallest U.S. dailies - including the Missoulian, Anniston Star, and Battle Creek Enquirer - the message is clear: The EPA got it right.

So many editorials have been written to date that we even know the answer to the proverbial question: "How is it playing in Peoria?"

In its editorial, the Peoria Journal-Star wrote:

It's important to keep that in mind regarding President Obama's Clean Power Plan, which would require states to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, among other ambitious benchmarks. Reminiscent of the legal challenges prompted by the Affordable Care Act -- ultimately to little avail -- opponents consisting mostly of coal lobbyists and GOP strategists are gearing up to go to war, in fact were well before they even knew what the White House influenced by 'radical bureaucrats' would do. We've seen it all before.

On the national level, the New York Times editorial put the Clean Power Plan into its proper perspective:

President Obama's Clean Power Plan, announced on Monday, is unquestionably the most important step the administration has taken in the fight against climate change.

Noting that action is needed now, the editorial page writers at USA Today concluded that further inaction on Capitol Hill cannot be allowed to rule the day:

In the face of congressional gridlock, Obama's plan, the final version of a proposal he first made in June 2014, represents the next best way to change the energy mix at home and demonstrate U.S. seriousness ahead of global climate talks later this year in Paris.

Is this our last shot at getting it right? That may be the case, according to this editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

In short, this doesn't have to be the economic doomsday scenario portrayed by congressional Republicans who have vowed to try to block the Clean Power Plan. Modest, affordable steps can make a difference. New jobs can be created in renewable energy fields. Or we can pander and stall, and present the grandchildren with a real doomsday scenario.

Cooler heads should prevail on Clean Power Plan" was the title of the Des Moines Register editorial that started out this way:

If you enjoyed the battle over Obamacare, you will love the coming battle over the president's Clean Power Plan announced Monday. At least that is the impression you might get from the reaction of some politicians and die-hard defenders of the coal industry. Members of Congress vow to block the new rules and opponents threaten to go to court challenge the Environmental Protection Agency's legal authority to require reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the battle over the Clean Power Plan is unlikely to be as furious as the one set off by the Affordable Care Act. That's because it would not be nearly as disruptive to the power industry as the critics would suggest. In fact, the proposed carbon dioxide reductions will not require dramatic changes, and many states, including Iowa, are already on track to comply.

The Kansas City Star emphasized the importance of the Clean Power Plan and dismissed its detractors, saying:

President Barack Obama's newly announced Clean Power Plan is a big step forward for a nation that needs to reduce harmful carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants...
On Monday, Obama's proposal predictably was derided as part of his "war on coal," with claims that he had a "lack of empathy for hard working Americans across the country." That last statement came from the euphemistically named American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
Obama deftly turned aside such criticism. Innovative American industries, he noted, have produced vehicles that are more efficient and pollute less, despite initial dire threats that it wasn't possible to do that. U.S. utilities have slashed other dangerous pollutants in the past, he accurately pointed out, often at far lower costs than first predicted.

The Toledo Blade's editorial "Give clean energy a chance" also called out Clean Power Plan opponents and chastised them for offering no alternatives for tackling carbon pollution:

Before the ink had dried on the Obama Administration's new plan to limit power plant emissions, business interests and their political allies began gearing up for legal challenges to the rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) calls the plan a job killer and is urging states to refuse to cooperate. Energy lobbies say it is radical and unattainable. But compared to the scale of human-created climate change, the plan is modest, and anti-regulatory politicians offer no credible alternatives. They need to give it a chance to work ... Together with the Obama Administration's vehicle emissions standards, the Clean Power Plan marks the most serious step any administration has taken to combat climate change. Fossil-fuel lobbies complain that regulation harms their business interests, but fail to explain how to address the life-threatening effects of climate change without it. What's their alternative?

Want to read more? Check out these additional editorials:

Surely much more will be written about the Clean Power Plan. But it is satisfying to see so many of our nation's editorial writers celebrating the Clean Power Plan, affirming the need to take action on climate, recognizing the opportunities inherent in cutting carbon, and calling out the detractors in the coal and Congressional lobbies.


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