Fewer nukes, less pollution: It was a big day for Barack Obama and his potential legacy, with a late-in-the-day announcement that he is planning a major push to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming—and he'll do it without Congress. Senior energy and climate adviser Heather Zichal said the plan (which follows a big second-term promise) would boost the energy efficiency of appliances and buildings, plus expand renewable energy. The New York Times relates that, per Zichal, a key element of the approach will be to have the EPA use its authority under the Clean Air Act to tackle the pollutants produced by coal-fired power plants, which are the largest source of climate-altering gases. She said none of the proposals would require new funding or action from Congress, though the Times notes that any moves made on power plant emissions will likely cause a ruckus in Congress and be challenged in court.
Details are expected to be revealed in coming weeks, and the AP reports it's unclear whether the White House plans will include controls on existing power plants. An unnamed administration official says the White House is still considering it. But since the administration has already proposed action on future power plants, the law would likely compel it to eventually tackle the remaining plants, or it would be forced to through litigation. The Times calls the power-plant regulation a "sensitive issue," noting that it will likely push up the cost of electricity in the short-term, and further reduce the coal industry's market. (Read more climate change stories.)