Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Supreme Court's EPA Ruling

Despite all the sound and fury, this ruling will have zero effect on CO2 emissions. This lawsuit was a meaningless political stunt by a coal state attorney general, and the ruling is equally meaningless.

EPA regulations have not, to date, prevented the emission of one kilogram of CO2. The first key date in the "Clean Power" plan that the court struck down is 2030, by which point the plan required that emisions be cut by 32% compared to 2005. We're going to meet that target by 2025, and not because of the CPP or any other regulation. Coal is dying because natural gas, solar, and wind are all cheaper. Right now, solar is cheapest of all.

In 2022, we should be retiring 12.6 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity generation. We should be adding 21.5 gigawatts of solar and 7.6 gigawatts of wind. None of which has anything to do with the Clean Power Plan. None of which will suffer in any way because of the Supreme Court.

What really matters, in terms of reducing CO2 emissions from power plants, is that government continue to push for more solar and wind power. The Biden administration understands this and they are indeed pushing hard, especially for offshore wind. Secondarily, I think the government should continue to fund research in other technologies, such as geothermal and new kinds of nuclear.

Besides which, if you believe the projections from the leading climate scientists, the Clean Power Plan would not get us anywhere near the reductions we need to really impact the climate. After all, emissions from electricity generation are only about 32% of our total greenhouse gas emissions. If we are serious about reducing those emissions we need a radically different approach, which means new legislation.

If our goal is just to achieve the reductions called for in the Clean Power Plan, all we have to do is sit back and watch the economic incentives do their work. If we want something more, we need new legislation anyway.


G. Verloren said...

This is sort like if the Third Reich issued a decree designating all Jurchens in Germany as undesirables, and scoffing about it because there weren't any Jurchens in Germany anyway.

I'm far less concerned about what this particular act actually does or does not do or how relevant that is in any given context, and far more troubled by what this act presages.

People doing evil and unjust things should always worry you, even if those things are "merely" symbolic rather than actually practical.

If someone burns you in effigy, you don't write them off because all they did was ruin what amounts to a scarecrow - you take them extremely seriously, because they have plainly declared their intent to burn you at the stake the very first moment they can get away with it.

Shadow said...

Yes, but it is the idea behind the ruling that is potentially long reaching. The idea is agencies are limited in what regulations they can implement. Unless specifically covered by congressional law, they can't do it. If that's the idea behind ths ruling, then expect a lot more rulings restricting agencies' powers. Or maybe the court is saying, "Look, agencies, you can't keep pushing the envelope to where you are creating new law." And just maybe there is no real difference between those two ideas.

Shadow said...

The response to this ruling in some quarters has been something like, "Don't be ridiculous. Congress, the law maker, doesn't have time for this. And they don't have the expertise either. My response is, "But the agencies do, and the EPA could hand over their regulations and ask congress to codify them. To which, I'm sure, the answer will be, "Don't be ridiculous, they will be held up in committee forever. Let the technocrats figure it out when no on is looking. And besides, we still don't have the time."

Perhaps the is what Xi meant when he said democracy will fail. Any technologically and economically sophisticated country must be run by a technocracy that understands what's going on and can respond quickly to change. Those trappings -- the democracy part of U.S. government -- just gets in the way, slows things down, and too often makes bad decisions.

Shadow said...

Oh, and I forgot. If there should ever be a pure technocracy, half the population would be running through the streets with axes looking for technocrats the behead. And, yes, you guessed it, the other half would be technocrats.