Milloy: GOP is MIA on EPA overreach

By Steve Milloy
March 30, 2012, Washington Times

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency just condemned to death an entire U.S. industry – a legal and scientific horror story that congressional Republicans failed miserably to prevent.

The EPA’s newly proposed greenhouse gas emission standards for coal-fired power plants will be finalized by the Obama administration, win or lose, after the November election.

Though the proposed standards leave alone existing coal-fired power plants, they effectively prohibit the construction of new plants by establishing an impossible-to-meet emissions standard.

But don’t get the idea that the EPA threw the coal industry a bone by omitting existing coal-fired plants, as the agency has already issued two regulations – the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury Air Toxics Standard – that will prematurely retire about 20 percent of existing coal-fired plants over the next few years.

The supposed scientific grounds for the new EPA greenhouse gas emissions is global warming. But even if you believe that man-made emissions are changing climate for the worse, there are two realities that expose the EPA’s moves as purely political.

First, if all U.S. coal plant emissions were to stop today, the average global temperature might be reduced over the next 90 years by, at most, an insignificant 0.15 degrees Celsius, according to United Nations-approved models. EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson essentially admitted to this futility in a July 2009 Senate hearing.

Next, as the United States reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, the rest of the world, especially China, has its emissions pedal to the metal. It has been estimated that by 2035 China will become the all-time leading emitter of greenhouse gases. That is, in the space of about 45 years, China will have emitted more greenhouse gases than the United States has in 150 years.

So the Obama EPA is accomplishing nothing with its new power plant rules except the destruction of the U.S. coal industry, which has played a leading role in powering America for more than 100 years.

On the legal side, and notwithstanding the narrow 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA in 2007 that gave the agency the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, it is obvious that when Congress amended the Clean Air Act in 1970, 1977 and 1990, it did not intend to provide the agency with authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

It is simply not credible that Congress intended for the EPA to write emissions permits for more than 6 million sources of greenhouse gases – an effort the agency has estimated would cost $63 billion and require an extra 250,000 employees over a period of three years.

But President Obama has decided that the coal industry should no longer exist and so has ordered new EPA and other regulatory agency controls to implement his political whim.

So where is the Republican opposition?

In their defeat, Senate Republicans can at least point to the fact that they don’t run their body. Still, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s failure to convince Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Scott P. Brown, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe and Sen. Susan M. Collins to vote for GOP-sponsored bills to rein in the EPA certainly draws into question his leadership capabilities, if not his zeal.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Republicans have held many hearings on the EPA. On occasion, some members have even made an effort to express mild outrage at the agency – that is, when they’re not pandering to the EPA for constituent permit approvals or handouts from the slush funds that the EPA controls.

The GOP-controlled House has even passed bills to rein in the EPA, but none that had a prayer of passing in the Senate.

Although House Speaker John A. Boehner has had the power to threaten the EPA’s budget, he has inexplicably refused to use his only real weapon against the agency.

Considering that in the 2012 election cycle Republicans have so far received 89 percent of the coal industry’s contributions to political parties – amounting to more than $3 million – the industry must be asking itself why it continues to support politicians who fail so miserably.

Ironically, the coal industry’s only hope is to support Republican candidates across the board in 2012, in hopes of gaining the White House and both houses of Congress. Then, a GOP-controlled Congress could pass and a Republican president could sign a single bill rolling back or overriding all Obama EPA overreaches.

Recapturing the White House or Senate alone will not be enough to alter the fate of the coal industry. It’s not at all clear that a Republican president would be willing to undergo a painfully drawn-out process for rescinding EPA regulations on a rule-by-rule basis. Even with a GOP-controlled Congress, it’s unlikely that there would be a two-thirds majorities to face down Obama vetoes of efforts to rein in the agency.

It ought to shock the conscience that for no scientific reason or legal justification at all, a single regulatory agency can unilaterally kill off a multibillion-dollar industry that supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s electricity – and get away scot-free.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery, 2009).

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16 responses to “Milloy: GOP is MIA on EPA overreach

  1. “inexplicably”

    There is ZERO difference between the career politicos of the left, and of the right.

    Why, oh f-ing WHY, would you expect some action other than pseudo-opposition from the GOP? Are you THAT stupid?

    Go grow a brain.

  2. You are entirely correct Steve. The Repubs need to take over ALL branches of the federal government or these regs will never be rescinded. In the Senate we need a 60 vote majority as well, The more TEA party types that get elected, the better. Need to vote straight REP accros the board this next election cycle to STOP this destruction of the American economy and way of life. Also, a little stock tip…. if the Reps do make a clean sweep this election cycle… buy COAL stocks early as they will double in price in relatively short order as they are severely depressed at the moment.

    • It’s not that simple. It is the best option, but . . . .

      With Romney as president, and Boehner as speaker,
      it’s quite possible that they will do nothing about it.

      I agree that “The more TEA party types that get
      elected, the better.” Our best hope!

  3. The second law of thermodynamics is beautiful and absolute. When Peter Huber explained a couple decades ago that any technology for energy based on the sun – wind, solar, biomass – has to use vast amounts of land. Usable work comes from the conversion of short wavelength visible light to long wavelength infrared light. Scotland and others are now at last getting annoyed by all those windmills.

    Similarly with Carbon Capture. Concentrating CO2 requires lots of work by the second law. I doubt if our highly educated, and relatively bright, president can understand that. It is ironic that his heath care law could fail because the highly educated, and relatively bright, justices of the Supreme Court can not understand the process of death spiral through anti-selection. Ignorance is bipartisan and international as demonstrated by the German reaction to the Japanese tsunami.

    .

  4. The EPA needs to be shut down, It has turned into a dictatorship of Ideologues. The only other course would be for the federal justice system and the courts to ignore their rules and not enforce penalties. I can see use freezing and starving while the EPA continues to work in a vacuum

  5. Bringing America to it’s knees by shutting down the biggest supplier of electricity in the U.S. for no reason seems like pure idiocy. However, the real reason is to follow the United Nations Agenda 21 which GHW Bush signed onto in 1992. The NWO will accomplish this no matter what it takes. The end justifies the means. Lying, fraud, intimidation, any and everything will be used. Looking at it this way, It makes perfect sense.

  6. When the electric grid becomes unstable and the blackouts start, people will blame the utilities, having long forgotten about this tragic little episode in American politics. But in any case it will be too late by then. Bringing the old plants out of mothballs, providing they had not been demolished, will take almost as long as building new plants. By the time the problem is corrected the United States may not be a first world country anymore. I weep for my children and grandchildren.

  7. James Inhofe, OK is the only member of the Senate fighting the good fight against AGW and EPA. Is there any way we can raise that fight from 1% of the Senate to 2%?

  8. chuck in st paul

    The GOP has been MIA on just about everything. The freshman class has been trying to get stuff done but the old dogs are RINOs of the worst sort.

  9. Forget CO2. Can anyone here clearly describe the comprehensive downside to coal? Long term health costs (emmissions, miners health) long term costs to remediate the enviromental damage by mining? The actual non-subsidized cost of electricity produced by coal? The enormous government subsidization of it? Anyone realize when those costs are factored in it is actually more costly then most other sources of electricity?
    Hey its your tax money that’s going up in smoke literally.

    Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

    Chirp chirp- crickets

  10. Ben of Houston

    There is no government subsidy for coal. Please tell me of one non-trivial subsidy for coal production.

    Long term emissions and remediation are already accounted for, and are factored into the raw price already since the coal companies are responsible for the cleanup. As they are also responsible for the health care of their people (who are overwhelmingly union and get lifetime health care), that is accounted for in their bottom lines as well.

    These things are already largely factored in, Keith. You’re double counting them.

  11. Ben of Houston

    Finally, I take issue with your “Up in Smoke” comment. Visible emissions have been banned for years, and you will find no smoke emissions longer than six minutes in length aside from reportable emission events.

    Now, attempt to find non-insane accounting of these actual pollution costs. Now, read them. You will find that the EPA’s accounting amounts to insane troll logic, vastly overstating the consequences of our ambient levels of pollution, which have non-detectable health effects by any measure.

    I’ll find Milloy’s commentary on the Cross-state pollution rule “benefits”. It’s really quite enlightening

  12. No public subsidy for mining? Ever read the General Mining Law of 1872. Its still governing mining operations

    A 2010 report by Synapse Energy Economics, “Phasing Out Federal Subsidies for Coal” found the U.S. federal government provides billions of dollars in subsidies for the coal industry.

    I just can’t take people seriously who don’t understand these things.

    Back to my original question and the only answer so far (chirping from crickets)

  13. I find it interesting that those on the right are screaming about passing our national debt (which is decreasing at it’s most rapid rate since WWII) onto our children. However it is okay to pass reckless environment policies. Just because China isn’t curbing their emissions (yet) doesn’t mean that we get a pass to keep polluting with coal. The temperature increase of .015 is significant when we are talking about the global evironment. It should be no surprise to the Coal Industry that they are being phased out, this has been talked about for years. If they were smart they would have figured out how to move toward the green industry instead of complaining about being left behind. When regulations are introduced which require less emissions to be released in the atmosphere there is nothing but moaning about cost. These industries make a lot of money and pay their workers squat. If they refuse to be part of the solution then they will remain the problem and therefore become a thing of the past. Yes, they supplied our energy for 100 years, so what. Slaves built the country and were used for 100s of years but that policy went away. The world is in a constant state of change and you either change with it or like the Tea Party people resist. Resisting will only make the inevitable change all the more difficult for them to deal with. I find it interesting that these posts were pre election and so much optimism about Romney and more Republicans getting elected. Didn’t happen. What does that tell you. A new voting block has awakened and they are realizing the power of the vote and are upset that they are trying to be denied the right. They will not go away, this only will make them more determined to cast their vote. Our country is changing and Coal is one of the casualties and another will be the Republican Party if it continues on it’s current trajectory. Nowadays change happens rapidly and one must be ready to move with it. Coal could not meet the challenge so it is finished.

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