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.






NFL & Recycling: Detroit Lions “Turn It Green” Campaign

The National Football League is busily preparing for another season in about a month from today, currently the players are getting ready at training camps across the country. The Detroit Lions will be wearing new practice jerseys at camp on August 6th that are bright green in color and made from recycled materials.


The new uniforms mark the start of the team’s recycling campaign which is called “Turn It Green” and will have a social media hashtag of the same name to be used across Twitter, Facebook, InstaGram, and the other platforms.


The uniforms are made by Unifi and are part of their Repreve line of sports equipment made from recycled materials. Each jersey is made from 21 recycled bottles and the Lions will be giving away towels to fans who attend their practice session which are made from 3 recycled bottles each.


The campaign will also have a promotional contest where fans can enter to win a chance to throw the ball on the practice field with the Detroit Lions quarterbacks. The “Turn It Green” program will highlight the benefits of recycling and the team is adding several in-stadium recycling receptacles at Ford Field for the upcoming 2014 football season.


Raising Awareness


The announcement of this program featured some statistics on recycling including the fact that only 30% of the plastic bottles used in the U.S. are recycled. In fact, 75% of our overall garbage is recyclable in the U.S. but only 30% of that overall total is recycled.

Americans generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year, which if it was composted, would be the equivalent reduction of greenhouse gases in the environment as if 2 million cars were taken off the roadways.


This campaign will raise awareness to the many benefits of recycling for our communities and the NFL and the Detroit Lions deserve credit for putting this program in motion. The NFL has more fans than any other sport in the U.S. and if this program reaches even a portion of them and changes their perception of the importance of recycling it will be a positive step in the right direction.


The use of social media and the contest are great ways to interact with their fans which is so important in marketing any type of campaign today. The program was certainly well thought out, and I will be interested to see if other NFL teams follow suit with similar initiatives in their community affairs and stadium operations.


I know the sight of the Lions taking the practice field in bright green uniforms will be a big change from their usual appearance, but it is for a very important reason, to raise awareness of the importance of recycling to protect our environment and conserve our natural resources.


(Background courtesy of CBS, statistics courtesy of and

EPA Limits on New Power Plants

Analyzing the Issue from Both Sides


The recent EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ruling regarding the future requirements for the energy industry to build new power plants in the U.S. has reinvigorated the issue of “clean” energy. Both the environmental groups and the interest groups and executives representing the energy industry have very strong feelings on this issue. This article will explain the ruling, compare the new requirements to the current standards used in the energy industry and detail the potential ramifications of the changes as they would impact the consumer.



The Ruling


The EPA announced a ruling where the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants would be capped ( The coal-fired plants will not meet this new standard without costly technology enhancements to capture and store carbon emissions.


This new technology is called the Carbon Capture and Sequestration (C.C.S.) system. This technology has never been used in a coal plant, though two plants with this technology are currently under construction in Canada (


Two sides to the issue


The EPA stated in the announcement that the cap on the emissions from these power plants is a “necessary step to address a public health challenge”.


The coal industry responded, and it was widely reported in the media, that it is not legal for the EPA to require the use of technology that is commercially unproven.


The coal industry leaders continued by explaining that the EPA usually requires that new technology be cost effective and that the C.C.S. system is not cost effective (


I have a vested interest in the environment, and these statements and reports in the media clearly signal to me a growing potential conflict between the EPA and the coal industry.


In my past dealings with the EPA, I have found their representatives to be very fair and professional. I found that I generally agree with their assessments regarding the changes we need to make to our business practices to increase sustainability. The agency has made great strides to improve the compliance of the federal government with regard to their product procurement protocols by introducing more green alternative products into the purchasing system.


The C.C.S. System


The C.C.S. system is a technology which utilizes equipment to capture the greenhouse gas emissions. It then compresses the captured carbon. Then, the compressed material is sequestered by being transported via pipeline and stored underground (


The energy industry is balking at the price tag associated with the installation of the C.C.S. system, and the EPA maintains that the government will not allow the construction of new power plants without this system in place.


The Cap


The EPA cap on the emissions from power plants is now being set at 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour ( The measurement for emissions for a new power plant without the C.C.S. technology is 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.


Therefore, every new plant is going to be required to install the C.C.S. technology in order to be compliant with the new emissions cap. The coal industry intends to take legal action to fight this new emissions ruling.


The coal industry has stated to the USA Today that the C.C.S. rules will lead to coal plant closures and a halt in new coal plant construction. This combination will lead to higher electric bills for the consumer.


It is widely known that the coal plants are responsible for the majority of electric energy produced in the U.S. and that this ruling from the EPA could have a drastic effect on the supply of that energy, which will lead to an increase in electric energy prices.


The Future


This is a potentially contentious issue because you have the EPA, which is clearly trying to follow their mandate and enforce some type of standards to limit the amount of carbon emissions from these plants. Those same carbon emissions can have a dramatic impact on the environment and our ecosystems.


The energy industry has some reservations about the cost and also the implementation and the effectiveness of the C.C.S. technology. They contend that they could install this system and it may not work to adequately address the issue, and they could be then forced to pass along some of the install costs to the consumer.


The consumers are caught in the middle and many are dealing with rising costs for everything, flat wages, a sluggish economy, and many are also concerned with our environment. Now, those consumers are going to be told that the cost of electricity could increase, and that will have a dramatic impact on their everyday lives.


I am very concerned about the environment, and I think the carbon emissions cap is a good idea. I think the federal and state governments need to get involved and mediate this situation to protect the environment, make sure that the new technology works by incentivizing a few plants to install the equipment, and to protect the consumer from an increase in energy costs.


This is an issue that concerns our environmental sustainability and could have big implications on how we continue to consume energy for our everyday living activities. I hope a resolution can be reached that will be satisfactory to all parties involved. If not, we are all in for some long, difficult days ahead.