Michigan target of EPA carbon diktat ( The Michigan View 06.01.11)
Posted by hpayne on June 1, 2011
Despite voter rejection of Democrats’ radical cap and trade legislation at the polls last November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hungrily eyeing the U.S. coal industry with backdoor carbon regulation.
And Michigan is first on the menu.
Wolverine Power, which serves northern Michigan, wants to build a new coal-fired power plant to satisfy Michigan’s future energy needs with more efficient technology. But in addition to running the usual gauntlet of federal regulations, Wolverine faces a formidable new hurdle: It must now satisfy carbon dioxide regulations stealthily drafted at the beginning of this year.
“We are venturing into uncharted territory,” says Wolverine Director of Community and Government Affairs Ken Bradstreet of the vague rule with no precedent for how to meet it.
Under Zealot-in-Chief Lisa Jackson – who told a gathering of the National Council of Churches last winter the U.S. has a “moral obligation” to heal the planet – the EPA based its carbon diktat on a 2007 Supreme Court ruling classifying carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Jackson’s coal-plant licensing is just the first step in a religious crusade to regulate anything that emits carbon dioxide – placing unprecedented power in the hands of a federal agency.
“The (high court’s) ruling is a flagrant example of legislating from the bench,” wrote Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in 2007. “Unless Congress intervenes to overturn Mass v. EPA or negate its regulatory consequences, non-elected bureaucrats and litigators will end up dictating how Americans produce and use energy.”
That time has arrived.
Obama’s EPA activism has enraged the new GOP House majority. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, led a bipartisan House revolt in April stripping the EPA of its power to regulate CO2 with the Energy Tax Prevention Act.
“At the end of the day, the EPA climate regime is all economic pain and no environmental gain,” said Upton. “Existing power plants will also be saddled with costly mandates that will further increase electricity costs for consumers,” added a press release issued by his committee after the House vote.
But the measure has died in the Democratic graveyard of the Senate, exposing companies like Wolverine to the EPA’s Green juggernaut and tying it up in yards of new red tape.
Wolverine’s Bradstreet says the EPA mandates that the company “submit the best available technology” to reduce CO2. Whatever that means. Wolverine is already in the green vise from former Governor Jennifer Granholm’s rules – reinforced by her successor Rick Snyder – that the utility meet a 10 percent Renewable Power Standard. To meet that edict, Wolverine hopes to burn up to 20 percent of locally-produced biomass in its new plant. The company will also use that technology to satisfy the carbon edict.
If Michigan green groups had their way, Wolverine wouldn’t even have the opportunity to argue its case before High Priestess Jackson. The Mackinac Center’s Russ Harding reports that Greens are hopping mad that Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality would give Wolverine Power a permit hearing at all.
Having cleared that hurdle, Harding writes, “there is little doubt that the CO2 permit requirements unilaterally imposed by EPA are designed to make it difficult, if not impossible, to construct coal-fired power plants.”
As Michigan industry tries to get up off its back after the Great Recession, green zealots from Lansing to Washington have mounted a multi-front attack to destroy its primary source of electricity: coal. The EPA’s assault makes clear that the 2012 election for president and Senate is crucial towards advancing legislation that would put a leash on the EPA – and return power to the people.