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EPA’s strong-arm tactics won’t work

Grand Forks Herald

It’s tried-and-true in the kitchen, and it would work just as well on the world stage:

You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

The Environmental Protection Agency should take notice, and recognize that it could lower carbon emissions a lot more quickly by cooperating with coal-dependent states than by bludgeoning them.

The EPA recently released an ambitious proposal to restrict the amount of carbon dioxide produced by existing power plants. Whatever the proposal’s benefits (and they’re in dispute), they’re almost beside the point because the real-world costs are so great: Higher electricity prices, serious questions about “who’ll keep the lights on?” and, according the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

No wonder congressional candidate George Sinner blasted the proposal recently, saying it will “have a disproportionate effect on states like North Dakota, where coal is a major part of the economy.”

Sinner, by the way, is the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party’s endorsed candidate.

Given that virtually all Republicans oppose the EPA’s plan; given that this opposition is shared by coal-state Democrats; and given that several coal states already have vowed to challenge the rules in court, this issue seems sure to be stalled for years to come.

And even if it takes effect, it’ll survive only so long as a sympathetic Democrat holds the presidency.

Why not use honey instead of vinegar?

That way, the Obama administration could craft a policy that could be passed with supermajority support, take effect sooner rather than later, survive multiple administrations, provide a more realistic example for China and other coal-starved nations to follow — and reduce CO2 emissions by a big fraction of what the EPA is proposing today.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., already has the outlines of such a plan. So does the Great Plains Institute, which has brought multiple stakeholders together to build consensus on carbon-capture and other “clean coal” technologies.

The EPA could reduce carbon emissions a lot sooner and with a lot less