June 17, 2014
New carbon rules
The Obama administration’s new effort to reduce carbon emissions is an important, sensible and necessary step in reducing threat of global warming. It should serve as an example to other polluting nations around the world.
The new policy announced by the Environmental Protection Agency a week ago would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Ultimately, the reduction in carbon emissions would be the equivalent of removing two-thirds of the nation’s cars from the roads.
Coal-burning power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the nation. They account for about one-third of all U.S. greenhouse emissions.
But the proposed EPA policy would not cap those emissions overnight. Instead, the policy has built-in flexibility to allow states to devise their own plans for phasing in reductions over the next 15 years.
States will be permitted to meet the new standards in a variety of ways. They can require power plants to improve their capacity to capture carbon emissions. They can promote renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. And they can set up in-state, cap-and-trade agreements in which low-emission plants can sell credits to pollute to higher-emission plants.
Critics of the plan - including many who still refuse to accept that climate change even exists - have been quick to condemn it. They have labeled it a job-killer and a “war on coal.”
But the economic harm is likely to be far less than they claim. Power companies already have factored in the cost of phasing out obsolete coal plants and developing cleaner energy sources, including the use of plentiful natural gas to run new plants.
Plus, it’s hard to put a price on better health for millions of Americans.
The EPA’s plan is a crucial first step in moving from a fossil-fuel based economy to one more reliant on clean, renewable energy. It’s not only something the American people should accept; it’s what they should demand. — The Herald
Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal coming home
The emerging picture of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was exchanged for five prisoners held at the U.S. prison in Guantánamo, indicates he’s no hero, no all-American G.I. Joe, and might even be a deserter.
But what no one disputes is that he was an American soldier held by the enemy, and that alone justifies the U.S. effort to bring him home.
That is what the armed forces do. It’s part of unwritten but fundamental code of solidarity in the uniformed services. No one is left behind, and no one should seek, or offer, apologies for bringing soldiers home.
The circumstances of this particular case make the prisoner exchange contentious. The initial sense of relief and joy over his return quickly vanished when it was disclosed that PFC Bergdahl — he was promoted to sergeant during his five-year absence, as per military protocol — apparently walked away from his post in Afghanistan voluntarily.
That is a serious violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, if it turns out to be true.
Before rushing to judgment, however, the murky details of the Bergdahl incident must be investigated.
Already, several early claims, such as the allegation that he went in search of the Taliban forces that turned into his captors, have been debunked or questioned.
In failing to inform Congress about their release beforehand, the Obama administration ignored the law, an action the president’s advisers have sought to justify by claiming that the Taliban had threatened to kill Sgt. Bergdahl if it became public.
This, too, should be part of any post-exchange investigation, providing it doesn’t turn into a political circus. Republicans in Congress have been so eager to turn any perceived weakness or misstep by the administration into a scandal that it’s hard to take them seriously when they once again cry wolf.
Whatever an investigation turns up, it does not alter the basic facts of Bergdahl’s detention, nor the fact that bringing a captured soldier back to his family was the correct decision.
Could President Obama have handled it better, perhaps without the big Rose Garden announcement? Yes.
Did he make the right call? Absolutely. — Miami Herald