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President Obama's Conservative Approach to Global Warming

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President Obama's proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants have been attacked as a neo-socialist, federal power grab. Ironically, however, his "cap and trade" strategy for reducing carbon dioxide is actually a conservative and modest approach that uses a Wall Street-friendly method of reducing pollution championed by President George H.W. Bush.

The centerpiece of the Obama Administration's climate change policy -- which calls for reductions in emissions of about one percent a year over the next 16 years -- is far from radical. 

In fact, six years ago, Maryland and a coalition of eight Northeastern states adopted regulations very much like what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now proposing for the rest of the country.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative had no impact on electricity rates as it helped to drive down carbon dioxide pollution from power plants by 40 percent.  And in fact, the economy in this region of the country grew faster than the rest of the U.S. over this time period. Many power plants simply switched from coal to cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas.

Tom Pelton, a national award-winning environmental journalist, has hosted "The Environment in Focus" since 2007. He also works as director of communications for the Environmental Integrity Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health. From 1997 until 2008, he was a journalist for The Baltimore Sun, where he was twice named one of the best environmental reporters in America by the Society of Environmental Journalists.