Washington has been focused this week on the U.S. Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of the Affordable (sic) Care Act. However, there is another case that has incredible substantive and political impact that came down on Wednesday when a three-member panel of the federal appeals court in The District of Columbia upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
By way of background, in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a tortured ruling, gave the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane under the Clean Air Act if the agency declared them a public danger. It did not take the Obama Administration long once in office to make such a determination. No surprise when the EPA issued an endangerment finding in December 2009, clearing the way for regulation of emissions from power plants, factories and other GHG sources associated by some with global climate warming. The fact that the Clean Air Act enacted some 30 years ago was ill suited for such regulation made no difference. It was an opportunity to slay the evil fossil fuels industry. The fact that taken to logical conclusion the regulations could deal a crushing blow to the economy and the generation, and use of tradition energy made no difference.
The court found that state and industry petitioners’ challenges of the adequacy of evidence supporting the endangerment finding and questions about significant scientific uncertainty without merit.
Industry trade associations, state governments, and nongovernmental organizations filed numerous petitions challenging EPA's series of greenhouse gas rulemakings. The Circuit Court consolidated these petitions under Coalition for Responsible Regulation, Inc. v. EPA, and dismissed or denied all challenges.
The case is a critical support and justification in EPA's continued quest to regulate greenhouse gases and elimniate the use of fossil fuels. (not sure what will replce them, yet since Solyndra is gone)
Congress attempted and failed in the last Congress to pass regulation of greenhouse and other gases. The House passed a bill installing a cap and trade system but it ultimately failed in the Senate due to environmental overreach and lack of a push by the Administration.
The court decision has to be put in context of the election. The Administration has a green light, an almost unfettered right to regulate about anything that emits a greenhouse gas. The current rules, edicts and direction of the EPA have been somewhat restrained as a sop to Midwestern Democrats up for re-election but if the current regime is returned in November, there is no impediment for the EPA to extend and amp up the curtailment of fossil fuels under the cloak of the Clean Air Act. Only Congress can stop or redirect the effort and the ability of Congress to do about anything has been demonstrated.
Businesses that rely on energy to produce goods should be wary. High-energy cost will mean an exit to foreign markets. This holds true even thought the price of natural gas has come down. Homeowners should expect their utility bills to increase. Of course, coal production will be effected with more and more exports going to Asia (where the burning the fuel creates more GHG for the same lump due to lax pollution controls than if it were burnt here.
The health care court decision will have a dramatic impact on all of us. I am not sure how to reform, improve the delivery of health care. I do think the mission of the liberals is to eventually have complete control and takeover of the national health care delivery system. So from that viewpoint, the decision is a path to completion as once these programs are in place, even if they are flawed, they are never repealed. Never. So if you like your current private health care plan, use it while you can.
However, the implementation of continuing and expansive regulation on GHG by an unresponsive and insulated EPA under a lame duck Obama Administration should be noted and a great cause of concern. This Administration has shown time and time again it does more or less what it pleases, enforces or ignores whatever laws it chooses. In this if Obama is returned and unless Congress gets into the act, the predictable will happen and the country will be poorer for it. At the end of the day, we will all need class II air permits to fire up the old bar-be-que. Like the sinking of the HMS Titanic, it is inevitable once the mighty ship hits the iceberg.