Follow Up: Clean Power Plan, Supreme Court Ruling Explained

In a follow up to earlier stories on this topic, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision last week to suspend the enforcement of the Clean Power Plan pending the resolution of all current legal challenges to the legislation. This decision is an obvious setback for President Obama and The White House who have invested a significant amount of resources and time in moving the Clean Power Plan forward through the legislative process.


The Administration was banking on this new legislation to grant the EPA expanded power to impose new regulations on existing coal plants in order to curtail the carbon emissions from these older energy producing sources. The Republicans in general, and conservative groups in particular have railed against this new legal authority for the EPA essentially framing it as economically detrimental for the middle class.


In my earlier pieces on this same subject, the focus was on the actual software and hardware that the Clean Power Plan would make mandatory for newly constructed coal plants to obtain in order to be compliant with the new federal government standards. These new technological and mechanical components would add significant cost to the energy companies in their project parameters for construction of new plants.


My earlier work focused on the fact that the energy companies (and their lobbyists) would push back hard against this proposed legislation, and that the impact would most likely be felt by the consumer because a portion of the costs to build the plants would be passed along to the average American in higher energy bills.



The challenge presented by this new law was to retrofit existing power plants with new technology to help them to run more efficiently and release less carbon into the atmosphere. In this situation, no matter which side of this issue you favor, the fact remains that the emissions from power plants are the single largest contributor to carbon released into the atmosphere. The higher the carbon or carbon dioxide amount emitted into the atmosphere then the links to climate change can be drawn.


It is also not unexpected that this regulation would meet with challenges in the court system so The White House is looking at this decision by the Supreme Court as more procedural in nature until the other cases against the Clean Power Plan get resolved in the court system.


The environmental groups and the environmental lobby is understandably frustrated with the ruling by the highest court in the land on this issue, but the public relations releases for those groups show support and confidence that this plan will eventually move forward.


However, some of these groups were also quick to point out the impact of carbon emissions on the rising temperatures and the impact on various species of wildlife.


Paris Accord


The ruling on the Clean Power Plan will not have any impact on the plans for the measures being taken to comply with the historic Paris climate change agreement. The issues are seen as being separate and distinct.


It should also be noted that the ruling from the highest court in the nation does not translate to an immediate or future action that is prohibitive to the plan to implement cleaner technologies in America’s power plants. It does allow for the other legal challenges to move forward with regard to the Clean Power Plan which were largely anticipated by the Obama Administration already.


It is also important to understand that while some conservatives on Capitol Hill and the energy lobbyists and special interest groups are positioning this plan as a very negative one based mostly on economic factors (i.e. rising energy costs); the amount of litigation that they have filed in the court system is going to cost the American taxpayers a great deal of money too. However, you will notice how that topic is conveniently left out of the equation.


The Paris climate change pact that was agreed to recently will challenge the developed countries of this world to do more to reduce our carbon footprint, our consumption, and to enact measurable steps toward the protection of natural resources. I would like to think that those goals would be important to most people especially those with children who would want to have our planet protected for the generations to follow.


The legal process on the Clean Power Plan will play out and some elements of the Paris agreement will most certainly be challenged as well. In the end, we as citizens have to decide what side of this issue we are on. The Earth, and all of the natural resources we have been given by God to protect and be good stewards of hangs in the balance. I know I would prefer a world with clean air and clean water and less wasteful consumption patterns. I hope this article helps you to determine where you stand on this critical issue.






“Must See TV” – NBC Gains Rights to Thursday Night Football

In reading the news earlier this week that the NFL had reached agreement on a new television contract for the Thursday Night package of games and that the rights to those games would be split between CBS and NBC; I could not help but think that NBC finally could reclaim their lost title of “Must See TV” for that night of the week.


I remember growing up that NBC owned the ratings on Thursday night, which continued into my high school and college years as well when the network cranked out new episodes of shows like “Friends” . Then later still it was “The Office” and a decent comedy lineup that anchored Thursday nights on “The Peacock” network.


However, that all changed for the network TV landscape with the advent of streaming devices and services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Direct that made live television viewing a concept of the past. The busy nature of people’s lives coupled with the fact that nobody works from 9 to 5 anymore, fueled that change towards the way we watch television.


The lone exception, as I have written about previously, is live sports programming. The ratings for sporting events of essentially any kind are “ratings gold” for the network which holds the broadcasting rights. The NFL takes this trend and puts it into essentially a “five times multiplier” with nearly all the top 10 most watched “programs” on TV in 2015 being NFL football games.


The ratings bonanza surrounding NFL games makes the addition of the Thursday Night Football package by NBC even more influential to advertising revenue and sponsorships that the network can attract. The network can also utilize “drop ins” to promote their own programs and events that are upcoming to a huge and diversified audience. NBC already receives a tremendous ratings boost through their agreement to broadcast Sunday Night Football which frequently is either the top watched program of a given week or in the top three spots. That ratings jump has boosted their overall viewership levels in the past and the promotional aspects of that broadcast have definitely had an impact on the ratings of their other programs.


Steep Price


NBC and CBS paid a steep price for the rights to broadcast five Thursday Night NFL games each over the next two seasons ($450 million combined between the two networks per year) which demonstrates the amazing draw that NFL live games have on advertising revenue for the networks.


In the case of NBC, they have been struggling to rebrand Thursday nights to compete with CBS and the other networks. They needed this share of the NFL package much more than CBS did, as CBS is the most watched network in terms of total viewership. Then, on the other hand, the fact that CBS has over the past two years pre-empted their regular Thursday night programming (in the Fall sweeps period no less) for NFL football demonstrates the enormous draw of the NFL. The shows in the regular CBS Thursday night lineup generate rating numbers that other networks can only dream about, yet CBS is committed to expanding their relationship with the NFL on that weeknight for two more years.


I must admit that following the ratings and the world of both media and sports business related topics, I did not initially understand why CBS would have paid the broadcasting rights fees that they shelled out for the Thursday night games initially two years ago. However, over time, I understood what the NFL and CBS were looking to do and subsequently accomplished with that initial contract. The league realized that the Thursday night games could be an attractive package to sell separately while keeping those games on NFL Network. They also identified a need to provide better promotion to both the games and the broadcast itself to make them look and feel like a “stand alone property”.


The addition of CBS Sports to that mix accomplished all of those objectives. The Thursday night games received an enhanced production value from CBS as well as their top announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms (who will continue to work those games in the new contract) CBS created theme music for the Thursday night telecast and cross-promoted the package very well to appeal to a wider audience.


Now, the Thursday night package will take another step in the evolution with the addition of NBC to the fold, and the NFL will gain viewers from cross-promotion efforts on NBC programming. In addition, NBC will most assuredly use their Sunday Night Football platform to promote the upcoming Thursday Night game so that will be a very effective marketing tool.


Streaming Sold Separately


The NFL also announced that with this new Thursday night television package they would be selling the rights to stream the games over the internet separately. The streaming capability was an aspect that both CBS and NBC were hoping would be included in their contract so that they could gain additional revenue from advertising on that platform.


The NFL will now begin negotiations for the streaming rights to the Thursday night games with the obvious players being mentioned in reports: Yahoo!, You Tube, Facebook, and Amazon. The NFL partnered with Yahoo! during the 2015 regular season to stream one of the games played in London between two subpar teams, the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the experiment was a huge success. It remains to be seen if the recent issues surrounding Yahoo! and their announced plans to cut jobs and shut down certain areas of their business will impact these negotiations. It also bears watching if Verizon will make an attempt to purchase the internet search giant outright (Verizon and the NFL have an exclusive agreement to show live local games on Verizon supported devices).


The recent Thursday night NFL broadcasting deal made two things clear: live sports programming is the gold standard which is keeping both network and cable television relevant, and that NBC finally has something deemed as “Must See TV” at least for five weeks out of the year.