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Supreme Court And EPA Emissions – Sometimes You Don’t Want Them On Your Side

The Obama administration is in something of a pickle. The EPA does not report to the public and so the Obama administration had directed them to implement strict new regulations on American energy companies.

Why? America is actually doing quite well when it comes to emissions and energy has led the way. CO2 emissions from energy are back to early 1990s levels and coal, the dirtiest energy source, is back at early 1980s levels. The free market did it without pain, using natural gas.

In a bad economy where only the 1% is making money buying each other’s stocks, more regulations that risk jobs would seem to be bad economic strategy, but it’s good politics. While energy jobs are union jobs, a key base for Democrats, pushing out new regulations would satisfy the environmental base and, if the Supreme Court struck down the new laws, no union jobs would be affected. The president and Democrats get to say the didn’t lose jobs and tried to help the environment but it was out of their hands.

Imagine the shock of the administration when two conservative justices did what liberal ones rarely do – they defied their personal beliefs and read the Constitution. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Antonin Scalia created an overwhelming 7-2 vote that upholds the EPA requirement that factories and power plants use the “best available technology” to limit emissions.

It was a legally solid ruling, not because more regulations are needed, they clearly are not, but because those businesses are already required to get clean air permits under previous Supreme Court rulings. Adding CO2 to the list of pollutants that need such a permit is reasonable.

While Environmental Defense Fund attorneys are thrilled at a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gases nationwide by 2030, the Obama administration privately can’t be. Because the Supreme Court also made it plain that the EPA can’t add small businesses, including hotels and office parks, to their list.

That means the administration will now have to tell energy companies and factories that the 30 percent decrease has to be borne by them. Who do union workers in factories and energy companies vote for? Democrats. There are not a lot of manufacturing jobs left in the country and environmentalists always insist if anyone makes a profit, they must be bad, but this could have real consequences the president likely did not expect to face.

A whole lot of coal workers are going to be out of jobs – there is no technology in existence that can make coal clean enough to average 30 percent. Ironically, it may be that Democrats in the future are going to have to subsidize coal the way they do solar now.


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