Frackers Win With Obama’s New Greenhouse Gas Rule


Written by Joshua Frank

On Tuesday the Obama administration released its much anticipated, first-of-a-kind federal standards for greenhouse gas emissions in the country. The fanfare was mixed among both environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry.

The rule appears stiff, but only for those who plan on building new coal-fired power plants in the United States. In all, 15 proposed coal plants in 10 states could be impacted, unless these plants break ground this year, in which case they’ll be exempt entirely. And by the way, no new plant construction has broken ground in three long years. Additionally — and unfortunately — for the most polluting coal plants the Obama greenhouse rule will be absolutely nothing.

Old plants, many over 50 years in age, will be grandfathered in under the Obama plan. These heavy poluters account for a whopping 40 percent of all carbon emissions in the US, yet will not be required to curb their emissions at all.

That’s not a victory in the least for the environment. It’s simply a way for the Obama administration to appear tough on climate change while still pandering to the coal industry.

But while old coal plants received a generous pass from Obama, the natural gassers will likely prove the biggest winner with the new proposal. According to the proposed regulations, any new power plant will have to restrict their emissions to 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity produced. No commercially viable coal plant can currently meet these criteria (because we still don’t have cost effective carbon capture and storage technology), but natural gas plants can and already do.

What this means is quite simple: expect an even larger increase in fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in the upcoming years as natural gas will continue to be the fossil fuel of choice for investors and energy executives. Obama touted fracking’s potential in his State of the Union last January and seems to be standing by his word with his proposed greenhouse rules, despite natural gas’ well-documented impacts on human and environmental health.

In a nutshell, Obama’s new rules are lukewarm at best and a big ol’ gift for the frackers out there.

This post was originally published by Earth Island Journal.


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Photo from billb 1961 via flickr


Sandra Hetherington

It doesn't matter who you vote for..they ALL work for the pretty much the same interests! You only have been given the illusion of choice!..Rockefellers..Rothschilds...Wall St.rule at this point! We need to stand up against them all! I believe in my heart of hearts we can do this..much hard work ahead though. White Light ~♥~ White Light ~♥~ White Light ~♥~ Peace to you Brothers & Sisters ♥♥♥

Ken W.
Ken W.4 years ago

The time is now not later !!!

nicola w.
Nicola W.4 years ago

Obama has so many expectations - but who better though?
He has been so so timid on the environment and I am disappointed but he is fighting big big money...
I'm an Aussie so in no way an expert - but it's a shame his social justice agenda doesn't match his environmental one.

B Smith
Barbara Smith4 years ago

It's time America cleaned up their act like the rest of the world.

Tim C.
Tim C.4 years ago


Madeline L.
Madeline L.4 years ago

Obama has no backbone..........again!

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

"Artificial trees" exist that can pull CO2 from air to store in tanks temporarily. Enhanced Geothermal Systems need at least $1 billion more R&D to be viable, but can make really good use of CO2 as their hydraulic/heat-transfer fluid--enough to sequester several times as much CO2 as the coal-fired plants they would replace. We can have our cake and eat it too, IF we can just invest enough in cleaning up after fossil fuel to be able to get away with burning fossil fuel without destroying agriculture and thus civilization.

Past Member
Past Member 4 years ago

Still better than the republicans in the pocket of the oil industry, but very disappointing!

Dave C.
Dave C.4 years ago

Ron B says it all so well again.....I am still optimistic that if/when re-elected Mr. Obama will be stronger and show more liberal/progressiveness especially towards environment.... (hopeful based on a few radio interviews I've heard with some strong progressives that talk about how in private he is much more liberal/progressive, but as a leader he does try to be President for all).....

if we could truly have a viable GREEN candidate it would be awesome, but otherwise Mr. Obama is still way way better than the stinking, polluting, killing GREEDY OIL POLITICIANS....

Alex Keir
Alex Keir4 years ago

I'm very disappointed in the President on this issue- and I called the White House and told him so.