WSJ: EPA may try to implement cap-and-trade without Congress

The Wall Street Journal editorial page explains how EPA may try to implement cap-and-trade on its own.

From the editorial:

…The rule for existing sources, now under development, would work like this: Because coal and gas are combined in a single category, the EPA would cap an average rate of, say, 1,400 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. In this hypothetical, that would allow a utility to run one coal plant and one gas plant—but the average would decline over time. As it fell, the utility would need to switch to more gas and retire coal. The standards for new plants explicitly refer to natural gas as a “system of emission reduction,” when in fact it is a system of emission generation.

If the EPA adopts the proposals that such green groups as the Natural Resources Defense Council are lobbying for, utilities that phase out their coal operations early would generate credits they could sell to other operators to keep their coal plants running longer. If that sounds like cap and trade—well, yes, that’s the point.

The White House is trying to fracture industry opposition and peel off companies that stand to profit—namely, the ones that have already switched to gas and could sell the credits to other utilities. It is also saying that carbon trading is more “flexible” than unit-by-unit command and control. This is Mr. Obama’s version of Jack Benny’s old “your money or your life” routine, except without the punch line…

Read more at the WSJ ($ubscription required).