By July 6, 2015 Read More →

Clean Power Plan: EPA must compare cost to benefits

EPA justifies over-each like Clean Power Plan with “exaggeration and hyperbole” – Hartnett White

In the wake of huge U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage, another ruling has almost been overlooked. But it could mean the end of the Obama administration’s disastrous Clean Power Plan.

Clean Power Plan

American President Barack Obama.

“In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court struck down the Obama Administration EPA’s signature ‘Mercury and Air Toxic Rule,’ which regulates emissions by fossil-fuel-fired power plants,” the Cato Institute explains. “Before regulating, EPA was obligated to decide whether regulation under one of the Act’s most burdensome programs was ‘appropriate and necessary.’ EPA interpreted that language to preclude it from considering the costs of regulation — some $10 billion per year, in exchange for $4 million or so in direct benefits. That interpretation, the Court decided, was ludicrous.”

And that’s where the threat to the Clean Power Plan lies.

“The centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s climate agenda is EPA’s so-called ‘Clean Power Plan,’ which aims to cut power plants’ carbon-dioxide emissions by around 30 per cent and force the phase-out of coal-fired generation,” Cato notes. “But the statutory authority that EPA claims supports this effort explicitly carves out any regulation of facilities that are already subject to regulations like the Mercury Rule. So if the rule remains in place — as seems likely — then the Clean Power Plan should be dead in the water.”

In other words, the EPA overstepped.

Clean Power Plan

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Mario Loyola has long held the Clean Power Plan is unconstitutional.

“The Clean Power Plan is a dangerous gambit to expand EPA authority far beyond the Clean Air Act, through the coercive threat of ruining the states’ economies, and endangering health and safety, if state governments do not pledge to reorganize their power sectors according to EPA dictates,” Loyola said last spring. “The Clean Power Plan is unconstitutionally coercive of the states in a way the Supreme Court has never upheld. Moreover, the plan faces serious statutory hurdles. And the EPA has failed to demonstrate that the plan would have any health or environmental benefits at all.”

Following the ruling, the TPPF’s Kathleen Hartnett White commended the Court.

“The Supreme Court’s rejection of EPA’s refusal to consider cost of the Mercury Rule in Michigan et

Clean Power Plan

Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

al. v. EPA et al. — the most expensive regulation the EPA has ever adopted — is a needed retreat from the Court’s historically broad deference to EPA’s agenda,” White said. “Unless checked, the EPA’s unprecedented regulatory initiative means costs, now in the hundreds of billions, for regulation devoid of meaningful benefits for human health.”

What both Cato and TPPF refer to is a simple cost-benefit analysis. The EPA has long neglected its duty to responsibly compare the cost of a policy to its likely benefits. Instead it employs exaggeration and hyperbole — those rising seas that will drown New York City by 2015, for example.

When an outside agency evaluates the EPA’s plans, it generally finds that frankly, China and India will overwhelm any gains the U.S. makes in carbon emissions in coming years.

The Court has taken a good first step in reigning in the EPA.

By Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. This article originally appeared in the Tyler Morning Telegraph on July 2.

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