The business groups’ brief in support of the Bonanza coal-fired power plant in Utah has elicited some news coverage, which we do welcome. The Sierra Club is attempting to twist and turn Clean Air Act regulations into an all-purpose tool to control carbon dioxide emissions, which, if affirmed, would vastly expand the federal government’s authority over construction permits for new structures. The more attention the environmentalists’ case receives, the more its excesses will be revealed. (Earlier post here.)
Last fall, House Oversight Chairman Henry Waxman was indignant and berated EPA officials (sorry for the boilerplate) for granting the permits to allow the coal-powered plant, claiming the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA compelled the agency to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. No matter that the court’s ruling dealt specifically with vehicle emissions, not stationary facilities, which fall under an entirely different section of the law. Or that the court said the EPA had the authority to regulate C02 from mobile sources, not that it MUST regulate.
It strikes us as strange that a representative of the policymaking branch of government would be so eager to surrender so much authority over U.S. economic activities to federal regulators. If the Sierra Club wins its argument, we’ll see the EPA in charge of construction permits for things like big-box stores or new hospitals, federalizing local decision making. The result will be expensive, inflexible, and expensive.
UPDATE (11 a.m.): The AP print story, i.e., more complete.
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