How to Message the EPA’s New Carbon Regulations

062414CarbonLimits_OrigThe Environmental Protection Agency’s new carbon regulations for power plants are arguably the most important action President Obama will make this term. Yet advocates are also keenly aware that the regulations are likely to be “fraught with political peril.” Defending them, thus, becomes all the more critical. According to a recent post by Jeff Cappella of Resource Media, all the messaging advocates need comes from a 10-word phrase in EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s description of the new standards as “part of the ongoing story of energy progress in America.”
In other words, advocates shouldn’t describe the new regulations as “the carbon standards.” Rather, they should describe them as part of the “ongoing story of energy progress in America.” The story of energy progress, in turn, acts as an umbrella that can hold many other sub-stories, including job creation, revenue creation, the role that energy progress can play in mitigating local harm and economic costs of climate change, and the role that clean energy can play in improving our health.


10 words that thwart opposition messages to carbon limits

Jeff Cappella, Senior Program Director at Resource Media
Carbon dioxide is back on a national political stage. On June 2, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy put it there with her announcement of standards for states to meet in reducing carbon pollution from power plants.
In the weeks and months prior to the announcement, there was no small amount of worry over the potential torrent of opposition and messaging difficulties the Obama Administration’s move could unleash. In May’s Rolling Stone, Big Coal author Jeff Goodell called the power plant carbon standards “the most important action” President Obama will take on climate this term but one “fraught with political peril.”
The concern? This would be painted as an escalation in a supposed ‘war on coal.’ An extreme federal government overreach. A hammer on jobs and the economy. A huge hit to families’ pocketbooks. All of the above. Indeed, opponents of the proposed regulations played just those messaging cards in the wake of June 2, from Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming (“drastic effects”) to Mitch McConnell in Kentucky (“a national energy tax”) to U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie in Virginia playing up a Chamber of Commerce report predicting huge jobs losses and massive electricity bills.
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Image credit: Resource Media

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