The Strategist

U.S Supreme Court Block Obama’s Clean Energy Initiatives because of costs constrains


07/01/2015 - 14:11



The U.S Supreme court blocked Obama’s Clean Energy Initiatives because the EPA had not factored in the cost to comply with such directives.



Five months before the UN led climate change summit which is to be held later in Paris this year, the U.S Supreme Court blocked President Obama’s clean energy initiative plans. Barack Obama’s clean energy initiative wanted to cap emissions of toxic pollutants and mercury from coal-fired power plants.
 
 
In a decision that was sharply divided, the U.S Supreme Court, pronounced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not factored in the high costs it take to comply with its directives. The decision to block the clean energy initiative was five is to four.
 
 
The new rules created by the EPA to safeguard the environment was challenged by 21 Republican states and by industry groups who are operating old power plants.
 
“One would not say that it is even rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits,” said Justice Antonin Scalia said from the bench. He went on to add, “No regulation is ‘appropriate’ if it does significantly more harm than good.”
 
 
The U.S Congress has since long tried to thwart Obama’s climate change initiatives, which Barack Obama countered by offering dozens of regulatory targets and tweaks so that co2 emissions could be cut and his administration’s clean energy initiatives could be implemented irrespective of Congressional approval.
 
 
If the Obama’s clean energy initiatives were to see the light of the day, by 2020, greenhouse gas emissions would come down to levels below that of 2005. Although three years back, Barack Obama had set this goal, but since Congress did not frame policies which would allow for such a decrease, the goals were unmet.
 
 
As one would expect, the whole idea was to take a serious look and crackdown on major existing carbon spewing power plants. New power plants would have to meet energy efficient standards. Power plants in the U.S are responsible for almost 40% of greenhouse gasses.
 
 
“We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulphur and arsenic in our air or our water, but power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop,” had said President Barack Obama.
 
 
So as to implement his vision and meet energy efficient standards, Barack Obama depended on the EPA to enforce regulations under a regulation known as the Clean Air Act.
 
 
This Supreme Court’s ruling is not final: the final decision as to whether Barack Obama’s clean energy initiative will see the light of day depends now on the DC Circuit Court, which has been instructed to consider the same taking costs into account, at least in the initial stage.
 
Although many power plants in the U.S implement technologies that curb the release of greenhouse gases, the Clean Air Act, targets those who do not process their emissions and spew toxics pollutants into the air. Essentially around 600 mostly coal powered power plants are affected.
 
“The Court has sided with the Dirty Delinquents  – the small percentage of coal-fired plants that haven’t cleaned up – and against the majority that are already protecting our children from mercury and other toxic pollutants,” said Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund.
 
He continued by adding, “It’s critically important for our nation that these life-saving protections remain in place while EPA responds to the Court’s decision, and EDF will focus its efforts on ensuring these safeguards are intact.”
 
 
Neil Gormley, a senior Associate Attorney with Earthjustice, whose grou had filed a brief supporting EPA’s stand, reacted to the court’s ruling saying, “ [it] doesn’t change EPA’s authority to protect the public from toxic air pollution. It just gives the agency another hoop to jump through. Now EPA should act quickly to finalise these crucial health protections.”
 
References:
http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/06/u-s-supreme-court-deals-blow-to-obamas-emissions-cuts/