Donald Trump has done it again. He is driving the left, the Democrats and the media crazy. How did he do it this time? He appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The left and the climate change group are having a total breakdown. Let’s take a look why.
The Clean Power Plan is the Obama’s administration policy to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired electric power plants by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. This plan which was critical to passage of the Paris climate agreement in December 2015 provided for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate power plant emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Plan had emissions reduction goals for each state.
24 states including Oklahoma sued to stop the Clean Power Plan because they believed it was an illegal attempt to “reorganize the nation’s energy grid” and an attack on the coal industry that would lead to higher electricity bills. The states were asking the courts to declare the plan unconstitutional partly because they claimed that the federal government does not have the authority to regulate a state’s carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. In February 2016, the Plan was temporarily blocked by the United States Supreme Court. This decision remains in effect until the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. makes a decision or the Supreme Court decides the case on appeal.
Individual states have always regulated their power systems since the early days of electrification. The EPA is working to nationalize power generation and consumption. To meet the EPA’s goals as delineated in the Clean Power Plan states would have to pass new laws or regulations in order to shift their energy mix from fossil fuels, subsidize alternative energy, impose a cap-and-trade program or all of the preceding.
The EPA targets all sources of carbon energy. As coal plants have been retired after seven years of EPA assault, natural gas has eclipsed coal as the dominant source of electric power. The result has been the cheapest and fastest emissions plunge in history. The government behemoth is still not satisfied. The EPA’s central planning favors green energy like wind and solar. There is never any mention made of the incredible number of birds that are killed by the wind machines.
The Supreme Court did give the EPA authority to regulate carbon emissions in Mass.v. EPA in 2007.However, that was not a license to do anything the EPA wanted to do. The Supreme Court has rebuked the agency twice in the last two years for exceeding its statutory powers.
The Clean Power Plan is based on a fragment of the Clean Air Act (section 111 (d). That passage is about a couple of hundred words and was added to the law in 1977. Historically, that section has applied “inside the fence line,” meaning the EPA can set performance standards for individual plants, not for everything connected to those sources that either produces or uses electricity.
Mr. Obama has empowered the EPA to involve itself in every aspect of American life because he believes that climate change is too important to pay attention to the rule of law. It is also a reflection of his efforts for the federal government to control as much of American life as possible.
Mr. Pruitt has his work cut out for him. He will be fighting many forces that want to regulate and control every aspect of American life. As a lawyer he has the knowledge needed to return the EPA to its proper role. The EPA was not created to oppose growth and development and to insert itself into every aspect of American life.