President Obama will announce an EPA regulation on Monday that will require a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions by coal-fired power plants, a move that circumvents Congressional intransigience on climate change and will likely lead to the institution of cap-and-trade carbon limits at the state level. From the New York Times:
People familiar with the rule say that it will set a national limit on carbon pollution from coal plants, but that it will allow each state to come up with its own plan to cut emissions based on a menu of options that include adding wind and solar power, energy-efficiency technology and creating or joining state cap-and-trade programs. Cap-and-trade programs are effectively carbon taxes that place a limit on carbon pollution and create markets for buying and selling government-issued pollution permits.
The Times calls the move the "strongest action ever" by an American president on global warming; coal plants are disproportionate carbon offenders, producing 37% of the nation's electric power but 74% of its carbon emissions from power production.
Two of the most prominent existing state-level cap-and-trade "pollution permit" systems were set up by Republican governors—Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and Mitt Romney in Massachusetts—but the party has largely changed its tune on the issue, with potential 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio recently asserting that he doesn't believe pollution causes climate change. In fact, Politico writes this morning, groups like the National Mining Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have already launched a counterattack against Obama's proposal on the grounds that it will contribute to unemployment and raise electricity prices for consumers. (Whether that's actually true, of course, will likely be a subject of much debate in coming weeks.)