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EPA moves in right direction

States, industry can overcome challenges

By The Mercury

Given that President Obama talks about issues more effectively than he fights for them, it’s far too early to predict much in the way of follow through on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘s proposals to reduce carbon emissions.

That’s unfortunate because the EPA’s proposals, which call for cutting carbon emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, would be good for this country. Yet Republicans, including Kansas Republicans, have denounced the proposals and vowed to fight them.

Gov. Sam Brownback called the plan to cut carbon emissions “a war against middle America.”

Sen. Pat Roberts said the announcement “of more draconian EPA regulations from the Obama administration threatens not only our nation’s stated goal of energy independence but every middle class family struggling to make ends meet.”

First Congressional Rep. Tim Huelskamp concluded his litany of criticisms with, “This proposal is devastating not only to the American and Kansas economies — it is a real threat to our Constitution.”

Contrary to what these gentlemen would have Kansans believe, the sky won’t fall with the new EPA regulations. If anything, it will be cleaner and healthier. Rather than dictate how the reductions would take place, the EPA is giving industry and states — individually and regionally — flexibility to meet these goals. Kansas would face its share of challenges, but it hardly lacks assets with which to confront them.

The EPA also has given states adequate time. If in less than a decade our nation could land astronauts on the moon and bring them back safely starting nearly from scratch, we surely can reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent nationally in a decade and a half.

The EPA’s goals for 2030 also would reduce by more than 25 percent sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particle pollution, providing $90 billion in public health as well as climate benefits.

What’s more, in contrast to critics’ predictions of higher utility bills, the EPA projects that its proposals, which also involve increasing energy efficiency, will help trim electric bills by up to 8 percent.

These “draconian” regulations are, at most, a step toward dealing with climate change. It’s a step our country — and, yes, other polluting countries over whom we have no control — should have taken years ago. There are certain to be immense challenges, but we can overcome them. Instead, too many of our national leaders seem inclined to deal with this the way they’ve dealt with Social Security reform in recent decades: by ignoring it.

Even worse are vows by Sen. Roberts and others to do everything within their power to block implementation of these regulations. They could well succeed, but in doing so they will only postpone and make more painful the day of reckoning.

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