Tax on Coal in Nation's Stocking; New Greenhouse Rules Do Nothing but Unravel Red Tape

Article excerpt


Last Friday's federal appellate court decision allowing the Obama administration's greenhouse-gas regulations to take effect Jan. 2 is an unnecessary travesty for taxpayers, consumers, businesses and states.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit isn't the final word on whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's rules are legal, but it allows them to take effect pending their litigation.

The court (Clinton appointee David Tatel, Bush appointee Janice Rogers Brown and former-dope-smoking Reagan appointee Douglas Ginsburg presiding) held that the industries challenging the rules failed to show that the harms they allege are certain, rather than speculative, or that the alleged harm[s] will directly result from [the EPA's regulations].

This is ridiculous.

In a few weeks, the EPA will start writing permits for power plants and other large emitters. Overlooking for the moment the costs and hassles to emitters and consumers that will undoubtedly be caused by the rules, at the very least this permit-writing process will cost the EPA and state permitting authorities (read already strapped taxpayers ) about $80 million per year.

What environmental benefits will be gained by these expenditures? You don't have to be a global-warming skeptic to respond: None.

Under the Clean Air Act, if the EPA decides to regulate a pollutant, then it must use the so-called best available control technology (BACT) to reduce emissions - but there is no BACT for greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2).

Burying CO2 underground - so-called carbon capture and sequestration - is experimental, and not considered BACT. The Obama EPA would love to declare natural gas as BACT for electric-power generation, but it is not yet willing to escalate its war against the coal industry.

Since there is no commercially available technology to reduce CO2 emissions from smokestacks, little will be avoided - even the EPA acknowledges that.

So at a very minimum, Judges Brown, Tatel and Ginsburg have imposed huge costs on taxpayers for precisely nothing in return. Apparently, there is nothing quite like a lifetime appointment away from reality.

But the wasted $80 million is really only the tip of the iceberg. There remain a number of ways that the EPA's rules can cause further harm, according to environmental consultant Rich Trzupek. …