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Politico: ‘The Biden climate slowdown?’ – ‘Lofty White House goals for slashing’ emissions ‘are hitting another barrier’


Lofty White House goals for slashing carbon pollution during the next 10 years are hitting another barrier.

As Jean Chemnick reported Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency is postponing final action on a rule that would limit carbon dioxide emissions from about 2,000 existing gas-fired power plants. The decision is likely to push one of the administration’s most important rules in the fight against global warming until after the November election.

EPA is still expected to complete a rule this spring that would require coal-burning power plants and any future gas generators to limit heat-trapping climate emissions. Jean reported today that the decision to delay action on the existing gas plants was a victory for the EPA — which wanted time to work on a more comprehensive, legally defensible rule — over the White House, which had pushed to go faster.

Sound familiar?
The latest move comes a week after POLITICO and other media outlets reported that EPA is leaning toward a less-aggressive option for regulating car and truck tailpipe pollution. Analysts say the slower pace of emissions cuts for cars that run on gasoline could mean that electric vehicle sales before 2030 are slower than President Joe Biden had once envisioned — even if they dramatically speed up afterward.

Biden is still pursuing the most ambitious array of climate actions of any president, basically ever. But the Earth’s warming is also roaring ahead — the planet may be less than six years away from exceeding the most ambitious temperature target of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

That’s one reason green groups and congressional climate advocates were split on the decision to push the regulation on existing gas plants to another day. Another reason: By this time next year, former President Donald Trump, who has pledged to wipe clean the Biden climate agenda, could be the one directing the EPA’s policies.

“Time is not on our side, and the agency’s generally lethargic rulemaking pace does not leave one optimistic,” said Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Energy companies and groups worried about higher energy costs have fought proposed limits on natural gas. But one environmental group said there’s logic in the decision to delay EPA’s gas rule until the agency can craft a stronger version.

Earthjustice President Abigail Dillen characterized the EPA delay as a “more ambitious strategy” meant to “ensure that new standards do not shift pollution to dirty, uncontrolled plants and the communities they pollute.”

That echoed EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who said dealing with the gas standard later will result in a “stronger, more durable” regulation that better protects people in disadvantaged communities.