Misery Loves Company

by Julie Walsh on September 20, 2007


Even though the House and Senate anti-energy bills and the various cap-and-trade bills to ration energy are stalled for the moment, the campaign against affordable energy continues in Washington. As reported by Reuters, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has written a letter to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Stephen Johnson, claiming that the EPA's recent licensing of construction of a coal-fired power plant in Utah is illegal.

Waxman's letter argues that the Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA defines carbon dioxide as a pollutant and therefore EPA is legally obliged to regulate it. I don't doubt that EPA may eventually decide to regulate CO2 emissions, but Waxman is jumping the gun. EPA is in the process of deciding whether and how to regulate CO2 from autos and trucks, as the Supreme Court ordered it to do. Power plants may indeed be included in that decision. In the meantime, EPA has no regulations in place to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. To deny a permit for a new power plant today on the grounds that greenhouse gases may be regulated in the future would be an audacious as well as most peculiar expansion of regulatory authority.

Waxman is trying to add another weapon to the burgeoning campaign against coal by environmental pressure groups. The fact is that the growing demand for electricity in America cannot possibly be met in the next few years without building scores, perhaps even hundreds, of new coal-fired plants. If Waxman and his allies are successful, the result will be to export California's electricity shortages, blackouts, and high prices to the rest of the country. Misery really does love company.

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