The burden of the Obama EPA’s 1,560 pages of new “Clean Power Plan” rules requiring that the U.S. slash electric utility sector CO2 emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030 will fall heaviest upon states which depend upon coal and natural gas for most of their power.
Among some 30 of these, at least 12 will be required to implement implausible 40% to 48% reductions. The Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth estimates that two-thirds of the states which will take the biggest hits are predominately Republican.
Assessing each individual state’s target based upon a weighted average of 2012 fossil fuel-fired electrical generation, the final rule will permit blue California to actually boost CO2 emissions by 15% by 2030, while red Louisiana — which produced about the same amount as California in 2012 — must cut theirs by 17%.
Compliance for states transferring energy dependencies to far more costly and less reliable wind and solar sources will bankrupt industries and businesses, imposing disproportionate stresses upon the poorest households. Prices of everything manufactured, grown, eaten, or needed to keep lights on and buildings air conditioned will be adversely impacted.
As West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey states, “We believe in this final rule the EPA is trying to convert itself from an environmental regulator to a central planning authority of states’ energy economies.” While he hopes to persuade 20 other states to join with his in filing legal challenges, a group of blue states led by New York and Massachusetts have pledged to instead back EPA.
Rule challenges will be filed directly with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which regulates government regulations. Legal considerations will include interpretations of House and Senate amendments to the Clean Air Act along with issues regarding whether the EPA has exceeded its powers by pushing utilities to shift energy forms rather than focusing exclusively upon pollution controls. Final decisions will most likely have to wait for rulings by the Supreme Court after President Obama leaves office.
In addition to assessing legal precedents which support arguments made by each side, courts will also weigh the extent to which EPA-opposing states will be irreparably harmed if the rules go into effect during the course of legal proceedings. Challengers will argue for a stay to block rule implementation during litigation deliberations because states are required to begin developing EPA compliance plans now.
As for existing legal precedents, the Supreme Court ruled last June that the EPA must reconsider economic impacts of its proposed rules requiring power plants to dramatically cut mercury emissions. The high court apparently didn’t buy the EPA’s annual “social cost of carbon” estimate of a $9.6 billion economic penalty vs. $37 billion in health benefits.
There should be little wonder. Those health benefit projections were based upon a whopper of a calculation that about 6% of all pregnant women in America eat as much as 300 pounds of lake fish annually. This allegedly passes mercury from power plants which lower their unborn children’s ultimate IQs by a comically “precise” average 0.009 point.
EPA had previously argued to the D.C. Court of Appeals that another $33 billion to $90 billion in “co-benefits” accruing from requiring plants to install technology to remove mercury and particulate pollutants from the emissions stream should also be taken into account. Yet even the EPA has acknowledged that more than 90% of those co-benefits occur at air-quality levels that are already safe and covered by existing regulations.
Fortunately, many states recognize strong reasons to agree and to resist federal usurpation of their constitutional authority.
A version of this article also appears at: http://www.newsmax.com/LarryBell/EPA-Green-Power-emissions/2015/08/17/id/670442/#ixzz3j5nUS55U