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Obama's Climate Plan to Ditch Coal Will Be Good for Business. Really

Obama's Climate Plan to Ditch Coal Will Be Good for Business. Really
Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Every time, they were wrong,” President Obama said today in rolling out his Climate Change Action Plan (PDF) to diminish the nation’s use of coal and other fossil fuels and invest in renewable sources of energy. He was, of course, referring to those who’ve opposed environmental regulations on the grounds that measures such as the Clean Air Act, or the 1988 agreement to curb acid rain, kill jobs and harm the economy.

Even before Obama began his speech, Count on Coal, an industry lobby, noted that seven U.S. governors, including Bob McConnell (Virginia), Phil Bryant (Mississippi), and Steve Beshear (Kentucky), had each written to the president urging him to back off from an April 2012 Environmental Protection Agency rule that would set a limit of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide released for every megawatt of power generated. The governors protest that the rule would force the closure of several older plants (kill jobs) and make it more expensive to build new ones (harm the economy). Daniel P. Schrag, a Harvard geochemist and scientific adviser to Obama, put bluntly what the president has tried to put delicately: “Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal,” he told the New York Times in the lead-up to Obama’s speech. “On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”