Niskanen Center Statements on EPA Ruling on Existing Power Plants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Niskanen Center today issued the following statements regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling on existing power plants:

“Recognizing the serious need to combat climate change, President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is the largest and most ambitious regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to date. Unfortunately, it is also the most complicated and costliest approach to doing so.

“Because the Administration’s plan uses the Clean Air Act – the only tool it has — to reduce power plant carbon emissions, it unfortunately means years of legal challenges that introduce even more confusion and uncertainty into efforts to reduce those emissions and to bring America’s power grid into the 21st century.

“A market-based mechanism such as a carbon tax would achieve the emissions reductions the President seeks, at far less cost and with no legal risks. A revenue neutral carbon tax will be no small lift but it is a far better route than using the Clean Air Act, which promises neither certainty nor speed in addressing climate change,” said David Bookbinder, Niskanen Center adjunct scholar and former Chief Climate Counsel for the Sierra Club.

“The Niskanen Center and its partners engaged EPA and OMB during the rulemaking process to urge them to allow states to adopt a carbon tax as a market-based mechanism for Clean Power Plan compliance. EPA’s final rule explicitly permits states to utilize a carbon tax in their state plan. This is welcome news, because a price signal is a more efficient, more effective compliance pathway than a complicated regulatory scheme,” said Sarah E. Hunt, Niskanen Center General Counsel.

Mr. Bookbinder is an adjunct scholar and Ms. Hunt is general counsel at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank committed to pragmatic policy goals,