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.
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.