It’s not every day that the U.S. Supreme Court protects states from complying with a costly federal regulation. Rarer still is a state that refuses to take advantage of this ruling. In February, the high court took the unusual step of halting President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” , believing that states should not be compelled to pay the exorbitant costs it would impose until a federal court determines its legality.
The Supreme Court’s decision can only be read as reflecting a high level of dissatisfaction with the legal basis for the president’s plan. Essentially, the CPP would use the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate a large-scale transformation of America’s energy grid. It would be one of the most far-reaching regulations ever imposed by EPA, directing states to reduce power sector carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent nationwide by 2030.
The costs of such a plan are indeed immense, and would necessitate a scramble on the part of individual states, especially to meet planned, interim targets set for 2022. Individual states would need to rapidly undertake the construction of new grid infrastructure, including the many new transmission lines and related power projects needed to generate and carry electricity from planned wind and solar assemblies.
For all the financial investment the CPP would dictate, the wind and solar power it envisions have yet to prove reliable for round-the-clock electricity. Such “renewable” sources of energy are intermittent — the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. As Europe has already learned from its green experiments, wind and solar require back-up power generation from coal and gas plants. So, part of the cost of the CPP for each state would be new gas-fired and coal-fired stations to buttress projected wind and solar plants, costs that utility companies will pass on to consumers. Much of this cost will simply be to replace the 40 percent of America’s current coal fleet to be closed by the CPP.
Many states were thrilled to receive a stay from the high court. In fact, 27 states had already sued EPA to halt the CPP. But Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe has affirmed his willingness to continue implementing the plan despite the stay, even though Virginia currently relies on affordable coal for 28 percent of its power generation.
Not only is the plan now unnecessary and costly to implement, but its effectiveness is questionable. For all the expense of transforming the state’s power grid, the CPP would achieve only a theoretical 0.02 degrees Celsius reduction in global temperatures by 2100.
Such massive cost hikes for such limited gain, drove the U.S. Senate to adopt a resolution opposing the CPP. Unfortunately, both of Virginia’s senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, chose to vote against the resolution.
Kaine and Warner may have forgotten that Virginia is a significant coal producer, the industry and its employees are currently under great stress from poor market conditions and a host of federal regulations. This makes the senators’ decision all the more puzzling. Since Virginia is currently under no legal obligation to implement the CPP, why contribute to the misery in the Commonwealth’s coalfields? The stay by the Supreme Court means that all compliance deadlines are now suspended, possibly for years until pending litigation is resolved.
Virginia should put its pencil down and stop implementing a plan that will add costs to its consumers, contribute to the destruction of its coal industry and destroy the good jobs the industry supports. A far better course for Virginians would be to follow the example of states that are rejecting the CPP as an unnecessary and costly burden on their citizens with little practical or environmental benefit.
See the article here.
- On June 29, 2016