A lot of reporters were distracted by the big number in yesterday's announcement of proposed reductions in carbon dioxide emissions: 30 percent by 2030. Indeed that was the leadsentenceinalmosteverynewsstory about the new rules.
But the 30 percent figure is not how the Environmental Protection Agency will measure success of the new regulations. The figure is arbitrary, chosen to give some nationwide context to what the state-by-state goals would mean.
The goals the EPA actually set vary quite a lot from state to state. And, indeed, how the agency arrived at those figures is a good deal more complicated than just picking a nice, round number.
When President Obama announced that he wanted the EPA to fast-track regulations on carbon emissions at existing power plants, the outcry was immediate.
“How are we all to blame?” asked Joe Manchin, Democratic senator from West Virginia, on Fox and Friends, “and why are we taking the hit that we’re going to be taking? Why is this economy going to be taking this hit? Why are jobs going to be lost? …and they will be lost!”