President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency announced a new set of rules Monday that will make it practically impossible to do something that the marketplace has already decided is a dumb idea: Build more coal-fired power plants.
The move is a significant step toward getting a handle on the amount of climate-changing greenhouse gases American industry pumps into the atmosphere every day.
Except for 15 planned facilities that already have construction permits, the new EPA rules will hold any future coal-burning power plants to emissions of no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. That's less than half of the rate of CO2 emissions that existing coal plants disgorge on average, and just a bit below the average emissions for existing power plants fueled by natural gas. Natural-gas plants now on the drawing board should easily meet the standards.