Monday, October 9, 2017

Obama's Rules Rolled Back!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     In 2015, President Obama and the EPA put into place his ‘Clean Power Plan.”  It placed federal standards on the amount of carbon emissions from power plants.  The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, struck down the regulations.  Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. Statutory context supports this reading.”    Obama, in a parting shot at the coal industry, signed an executive order placing stricter regulations on the coal industry regarding waterways and streams. That regulation was through the Department of Interior.  Clearly the former president was no friend to the coal industry, but he never said he was going to bankrupt the coal industry as is widely reported.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, did say she was going to put coal miners out of work by moving America to renewable energy. 
     Currently 65% of the electricity generated in the United States is produced from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum).  Coal is nearly 40% by itself.   20% is produced from nuclear energy. 15%  is from renewable energy (wind, solar), both of which fail when policymakers decrease government subsidies.  Most wind and solar operations are not economically viable on their own.  They have to have taxpayer support to be profitable.  Great Britain has pulled their subsidies for renewable energy- and America should!
     On Monday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, ”The war on coal is over,” after declaring he will sign a new rule overriding Obama’s Clean Power Plan.   “No federal agency should use their authority to declare war on any sector of our economy,” Pruitt said.   Environmental groups immediately said they would challenge the rule change in court. When he was AG of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt sued the federal government to stop the overreaching EPA regulations.
     Pruitt’s action is the fulfillment of a promise then candidate Trump made during the campaign.  Appearing with Pruitt in Hazard, KY at the announcement of the rule change, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky) said "A lot of damage has been done. This doesn't immediately bring everything back, but we think it stops further decline of coal fired plants in the United States and that means there will still be some market here."
     The fact is coal, as a generating source for electricity, has been steadily losing annual market share to natural gas and nuclear.  But coal is still is the most used source for electric generation.  The future for coal fired plants doesn’t appear too bright, but Pruitt is correct- no industry should be targeted by the federal government.  Picking winners and losers is not the job of the government. 
     In a capitalist economic system, the free market dictates the winners and losers, not bureaucrats with a pencil.  Pruitt’s rule change puts the free market back in control. 

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