- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency just condemned to death an entire U.S. industry - a legal and scientific horror story that congressional Republicans failed miserably to prevent.

The EPA’s newly proposed greenhouse gas emission standards for coal-fired power plants will be finalized by the Obama administration, win or lose, after the November election.

Though the proposed standards leave alone existing coal-fired power plants, they effectively prohibit the construction of new plants by establishing an impossible-to-meet emissions standard.

But don’t get the idea that the EPA threw the coal industry a bone by omitting existing coal-fired plants, as the agency has already issued two regulations - the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury Air Toxics Standard - that will prematurely retire about 20 percent of existing coal-fired plants over the next few years.

The supposed scientific grounds for the new EPA greenhouse gas emissions is global warming. But even if you believe that man-made emissions are changing climate for the worse, there are two realities that expose the EPA’s moves as purely political.

First, if all U.S. coal plant emissions were to stop today, the average global temperature might be reduced over the next 90 years by, at most, an insignificant 0.15 degrees Celsius, according to United Nations-approved models. EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson essentially admitted to this futility in a July 2009 Senate hearing.

Next, as the United States reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, the rest of the world, especially China, has its emissions pedal to the metal. It has been estimated that by 2035 China will become the all-time leading emitter of greenhouse gases. That is, in the space of about 45 years, China will have emitted more greenhouse gases than the United States has in 150 years.

So the Obama EPA is accomplishing nothing with its new power plant rules except the destruction of the U.S. coal industry, which has played a leading role in powering America for more than 100 years.

On the legal side, and notwithstanding the narrow 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA in 2007 that gave the agency the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, it is obvious that when Congress amended the Clean Air Act in 1970, 1977 and 1990, it did not intend to provide the agency with authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

It is simply not credible that Congress intended for the EPA to write emissions permits for more than 6 million sources of greenhouse gases - an effort the agency has estimated would cost $63 billion and require an extra 250,000 employees over a period of three years.

But President Obama has decided that the coal industry should no longer exist and so has ordered new EPA and other regulatory agency controls to implement his political whim.

So where is the Republican opposition?

In their defeat, Senate Republicans can at least point to the fact that they don’t run their body. Still, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s failure to convince Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Scott P. Brown, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe and Sen. Susan M. Collins to vote for GOP-sponsored bills to rein in the EPA certainly draws into question his leadership capabilities, if not his zeal.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Republicans have held many hearings on the EPA. On occasion, some members have even made an effort to express mild outrage at the agency - that is, when they’re not pandering to the EPA for constituent permit approvals or handouts from the slush funds that the EPA controls.

The GOP-controlled House has even passed bills to rein in the EPA, but none that had a prayer of passing in the Senate.

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