- - Wednesday, June 8, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s great to have a cause, and almost any will do so long as it’s neither caustic nor quixotic. Environmental extremists have a cause that has been, at one time or another, both. Enlisting the power of the federal government to impose a “green” agenda and rob property owners of the use of their land has threatened the well-being of law-abiding Americans. Expecting taxpayers around the world to pay trillions for “decarbonizing” the planet’s energy is a dewy-eyed fantasy. Fortunately, common sense is making its presence felt. That’s a cause for celebration.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a heavy-handed regulation last week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used to restrict the private use of wetlands. In U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., the justices ruled unanimously that landowners are entitled to “prompt judicial review” when the EPA classifies their property as “wetlands.” The agency had interpreted the Clean Water Act to claim authority over all land containing water that if disturbed, could lead to polluting runoff that reaches “navigable waters,” navigable being so loosely defined as perhaps including Death Valley.

In the case at hand, the EPA ordered Hawkes Co., a Minnesota firm, to halt plans to mine a peat bog, though it was located 120 miles from the Red River of the North, the nearest navigable stream. The company had faced fines of up to $37,000 a day if it had proceeded without permission of the EPA bureaucrats. The High Court sided with the plaintiffs, who, like other threatened landowners, have been forced to wait years for permission that is usually denied, effectively denying the rightful use of their land. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said “the reach and systemic consequences of the Clean Water Act remain a cause for concern.”

For those who worship all things “green,” humans and all their industrious civilization-building activities are regarded as unsightly blemishes on the countenance of nature. Attempting to apply the Clean Water Act to gain jurisdiction over every trickling rivulet was a trickle too far, and the Supreme Court slapped the EPA’s overreaching hand.

In similar bold fashion, the globalists are increasing the pressure on governments to spend without end on projects to rid the world of hated carbon-based energy. The International Energy Agency published a report last week titled “Energy Technology Perspectives 2016,” urging city dwellers to redouble efforts to implement the United Nations climate change agreement signed in Paris last December: “As the share of the world’s population living in cities rises, ambitious action in urban areas can be instrumental in achieving long term sustainability of the global energy system … .” Perhaps it can, but it doesn’t, and it won’t. With a price tag of more than $15 trillion over the next 40 years, the environmentalists will reach their goal only by learning how to make money grow on their beloved trees.

Europeans have decided their level of investment in “clean” energy is unsustainable. Spending fell 21 percent last year from $62 billion to $48.8 billion, according to Bloomberg News. Germany has been particularly hard-hit — green spending was down 46 percent with Germans complaining that pricey renewable energy has made their electricity 25 percent more expensive than the average in the European Union.

Everybody wants a better, cleaner world. But when extremists pursue it at the sacrifice of all others, the wish becomes an impossible dream. The growing backlash against environmental extremism as a cause means that efforts to punish people merely for their existence are unsustainable. Humans are part of nature, too, even if sometimes it hardly seems that way.

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