The Obama Administration previously proposed legislation including regulations written by the Environmental Protection Agency requiring pollution-emitters like power plants to begin dramatically cutting their emissions starting in the year 2020.
The legislation still has not been finalized, and according to people involved in the planning, the EPA will extend the deadline until the year 2020. However, the environmental agency will also provide incentives for companies who make the switch more quickly.
The Clean Power Act, as the legislation is called, has faced criticism and rejection by Republicans in Congress as well as the oil and gas industry and many state governments. They fear that the Act will hurt the coal industry and increase electricity bills for individuals.
Reducing coal-induced pollution to mitigate climate change has long been a goal of the Obama Administration, but this is the most significant legislation that they have pushed in that regard. An official in the administration also reassured consumers by stating that the EPA will make sure that the power grid is reliable and will be flexible in finding energy sources.
Originally, the EPA was going to require each state to develop its own pollution reduction plan, with pollution cuts starting in 2020 and final pollution reduction deadlines in 2030. Now, the states can still develop their own plan, but must begin emissions-cutting programs in 2022. The Obama Administration believes that the final legislation will be stronger than the original.
The extra two years gives the states enough time to figure out how they will deal with the reduction in coal power supply. Critics worry that the higher electricity bills will unfairly target the poor and that there will be pauses in the power supply. However, if a state does not come up with an energy plan in the appropriate amount of time, the federal government can step in and impose one themselves.