Thursday, August 23, 2012

5th Circuit to EPA: You Don't Get to do That

It's hardly a secret that Democrats, who largely staff the EPA, think that energy made from fossil fuels is somehow bad.  Despite no solid evidence for it, and, indeed, a fair amount of evidence against it, they believe that burning fossil fuels can cause global warming.  Wait, now it's called climate change.  Wait, no, now they're calling it climate disruption.

Almost need a scorecard, don't you?

When Congress passed the Clean Air Act several years ago, it surprised precisely no one that the first thing the EPA did was to issue crippling regulations against electricity producers, especially against coal-fired power plants.  These new regulations would have forced electricity producers, and therefore you, to pay millions (if not billions) of dollars to address a problem that hasn't even been proven to exist.  It would have cost thousands of jobs, and reduced the reliability of the electric grid.  Ask New York and California about the importance of a reliable electric grid.

In response to those regulations, Texas instituted a "flexible permitting program."  While I am unfamiliar with all the details, I do have a layman's understanding.  At its most basic, Texas said that existing plants could be retro-fit with carbon scrubbers (much cheaper than what the EPA was suggesting), and that, as long as their emissions were within set standards, they would be allowed to continue to operate. 

Let's be clear, here: at no point did this policy challenge the emissions standards, only the EPA's regulations regarding how those standards were to be met.

The EPA, in full Big Government Mode, sued Texas to force us to adopt their much more expensive and job-killing process.  It seems that it's not simply the emissions they care about, but that the energy itself must somehow be tainted.

Recently, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled and overturned the EPA.  They went further than that, stating that the EPA had actively overstepped its bounds under the Clean Air Act.

This is a significant victory for Federalists and opponents of the Growing Police State.  Beyond the economic implications, which are huge, there is also the Federalist issue.  Does the Federal Government have any right to dictate business operations standards to the States?  Does it even have the right to dictate environmental standards to the States?  Well, the latter question is still open; the Federal Government, including the Courts, says yes, but the States largely say no.  The answer to the former question, however, it appears is "no."

And this has a direct impact on Texas.  In recent years, we've heard a lot about new records for energy consumption during the summer.  So far, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has stayed ahead of demand, but it's getting harder.  Mostly this is due to new residents and new businesses- which means it's actually a good problem to have.  Partially, though, this is due to how hard it is to open a new power plant. 

If Texas wants to be able to power ourselves through the future, wind and solar farms simply are not the answer.  We must re-embrace fossil fuel power plants, and we'd better start building them now.

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