Benefits, Balance: Our Economy Runs on Energy

By December 27, 2008Energy

The Wall Street Journal editorializes today on the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Entergy Corporation v. Riverkeeper, the issue being whether power plants must use the most advanced, most expensive cooling technology no matter what the cost. From “Plankton Watch“:

In Entergy, a green lobby named Riverkeeper is seeking to make power plants go beyond what was judged necessary by the EPA’s cost-benefit analysis. According to Riverkeeper’s lawyer, Richard Lazarus, “The EPA has no authority in any circumstance to decide that fish aren’t worth a certain amount of cost.” In other words, while EPA may consider whether the industry is able to bear the costs, it should not weigh those costs against harm to the environment.

If it sounds fishy, that’s exactly what the environmentalists have in mind. When power plants draw in water from lakes and rivers to circulate into coolant systems for power generation, some fish and marine life forms are harmed. To reduce the mortality rate, the enviros suggest, a better option would be cooling systems that recycle water or air within the plant. Small problem: The conversion cost can run to hundreds of millions of dollars per plant, while decreasing efficiency. According to EPA estimates, 20 new power plants would have to be built nationwide to compensate for the new cooling process.

The NAM and other groups filed an amicus brief in this case, which the Supreme Court combined with two others. For more, please see the NAM’s Legal Beagle entry. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on December 2; you can read the transcript here.

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