In a surprising rebuke to the damn-the-law-nana-nana-nana arrogance of White House and EPA anti-fossil fuel vigilantes, the Supreme Court has pulled the plug on the Obama Clean Power Plan.
The extremely rare stay notified the Obama administration that it cannot pursue “carbon pollution emission guidelines” until the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on legal merits.
The court order responded to a lawsuit filed by 27 states and dozens of business, consumer, and public interest groups challenging EPA’s authority to enforce a regulation finalized last August.
Had that power play gone ahead, it would not only kill the coal industry, but would also usurp authority of states to plan and enforce energy and environmental policies that respond to their particular needs and circumstances. This would transfer virtual total control across all industries and even households to capricious dictates of clueless, ideologically-calculating, unaccountable, politically-appointed federal EPA bureaucrats.
Although temporary and conditional, practical ramifications of the Supreme Court’s narrow and politically aligned 5-4 decision represent an enormous win for the nation. The ruling essentially blocks federal EPA hijacking of authority granted to states, enabling governors and legislatures to safely ignore extortion risks and penalties which will be offset by enormous state tax revenue and ratepayer benefits of noncompliance.
According to the Energy Information Agency, electricity costs under the Clean Power Act regime were in line to increase 4.9 percent by 2020, and another 4 percent by 2030.
Those economic burdens would fall heaviest on the shoulders of citizens who can least afford them. As reported by Investor’s Business Daily, Harry C. Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, estimated that “this single regulation will cost cumulative job losses for blacks and Hispanics of roughly 7 million and 12 million, over the next 20 years.” He added, “This regulation will also impose higher costs of living, which again hit minority families the hardest.”
Such excessive and unnecessary cost escalations should come as no surprise. After all, a then-presidential candidate Obama made this intention clear when he declared in January 2008 that under his administration “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” and that coal-powered plants “would have to retrofit their operations” which would “cost money.”
EPA’s plans requiring states to cut CO2 emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 would launch that cost skyrocketing commitment. The Heritage Foundation estimates that the new rule would add more than $1,000 per year in higher household energy expenditures, and cost close to $100 billion annually in lost U.S. GDP output.
The EPA claimed that the stay on its rule was inappropriately premature because states wouldn’t have to comply until 2022. A similar argument worked in their favor last year in winning a Michigan v. EPA court dispute regarding forced state compliance with a 2012 mercury emissions rule. After the Supreme Court voided action on the rule, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the states’ request for a stay.
The plaintiffs argued that EPA had railroaded utilities whose long-term business decisions must account for regulatory uncertainties to act, regardless of legal merits, based upon threatened new rule noncompliance penalties. In doing so, EPA had already extracted nearly $10 billion a year before the court could even review the mercury rule.
The EPA, in turn, argued that since the majority of power plants were already in compliance or well on their way to compliance, the legality of the rule no longer really mattered. They then successfully used that unlawfully-mandated-compliance to keep the rule in place even after the Supreme Court had previously declared that the agency violated the law.
The D.C. Circuit Court decision not to allow a state-requested stay followed a circular EPA logic that although the higher court found the rule to be illegal, it had already de facto become self-executing because most of the power plants had already obeyed.
The Supreme Court’s latest action to stay implementation of the Clean Power Plan rule appears to reflect growing top judiciary impatience with Obama administration and EPA abuses of statutory powers.
Although the brief one-page order offered no explanation, the court observed in slapping down EPA’s 2012 mercury rule that “When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute [Clean Air Act] unheralded power to regulate a significant portion of the economy, we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism.”
We’ll have to wait and see whether the D.C. District Court will finally get that message. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin in June, and the good news for now is that ongoing legal challenges will likely block federal end runs of state energy and environmental authority throughout Obama’s remaining term of office. Particularly now with the sad passing on Saturday of Justice Antonin Scalia, a game-changing presidential election has never been more important.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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