Saturday, September 24, 2016

Clean Power Plan Appears in Court

Arguments challenging the EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP) will be heard in the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC this week. Here is a nice article summarizing the legal aspects of the challenge brought by a coalition of fossil fuel companies and their supporters. After looking at the challenge, there are some real questions in my mind. Let me summarize:

  • The challengers cannot question whether the Clean Air Act covers climate-changing air pollutants. That has already been decided by the US Supreme Court.
  • The challengers cannot question whether the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to limit carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. That has already been decided by the US Supreme Court.
  • The challengers cannot question the science of climate change—whether power plants’ massive carbon pollution endangers our health and well-being.That has already been decided by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court refused to review it.
So, they can't challenge the science, they can't challenge the damage and they can't challenge the authority of the EPA to enact such a plan. Just what are they hoping to achieve?

It turns out their challenge is to the way the EPA is implementing the plan. In other words, since they can't do anything about the science, the need and the authority, they will claim everything needs to be done in a different manner and, therefore, the EPA shouldn't be allowed to proceed.

But, wait a minute! Most states are already implementing the CPP and are on track to meet the plan's goals! And, market forces are dictating the move away from coal and towards cleaner energy, including wind and solar. So, why are the challengers pursuing this case?

I think the article shows what their motive is with this statement:
Indeed, the challengers’ constitutional argument wouldn’t stop at the Clean Power Plan. It would effectively block any federal safeguards against power plant air pollution, including those aimed at curbing acid rain, toxic emissions, or interstate air smog violations.
That is the real objective - to get all regulation of power plant emissions stricken down. It turns out the stakes are much higher than previously thought.

Ask yourself honestly, even if you are opposed to the CPP, do you want the power companies to be able to emit pollutants without any regulation?

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