This nation’s political leaders are too often followers, slow to advance policies that a majority of Americans favor. A fresh illustration of that pattern appeared this week as President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants — something that large majorities of Americans support and, according to a Sierra Club poll, 56 percent of Americans believe the feds already do.
Increasingly, Americans recognize that the climate changes caused by greenhouse gas emissions are a threat to their way of life and that reducing those emissions from their largest categorical source — aging coal-fired power plants — is essential to bending the climate trend lines in a more positive direction.
Yet in Washington, the proposed EPA rule has been a long four and a half years in the making, and the final rules will be set by each state. When it was announced, partisans rushed to their usual opposite corners. Obama’s Clean Power Plan was hailed as a historic breakthrough by former Democratic Vice President Al Gore and denounced as “nuts” by Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Fortunately, Minnesotans aren’t as easily divided. The proposal to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent from their 2005 levels was received in stride by this state’s utility companies and elected officials alike.
This article was originally published on June 6, 2014 in its entirety in the Star Tribune.