In a 6-to-2 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate air pollution from coal-burning power plants across state lines handing the Obama administration what is arguably its biggest environmental victory in its effort to use the Clean Air Act as a tool to fight global warming and reduce carbon emissions. "Today's Supreme Court decision means that millions of Americans can breathe easier," says Fred Krupp, president for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which was a party to the case.
At issue was whether the EPA could use what are known as good-neighbor rules to regulate emissions that cross state borders. In short, the Supreme Court ruled that a power plant in Ohio whose emissions blow east into New York is liable for the damage caused there, even if it's hundreds of miles away from the source. Utilities must now weigh the high costs of cleaning up their coal operations against simply shutting them down. Given the cheap price of natural gas, the decision is likely to push utilities into building new natural gas-fired power plants. By 2020, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates, 60 gigawatts of coal-fired power production will be retiredabout 20 percent of the total amount of coal-fired capacity in the U.S. If anything, the Supreme Court will quicken that pace of retirements.
Coal is nonetheless expected to make up 32 percent of US electricity production in 2040 and coal's outlook is even better abroad, where China, India, and other rapidly expanding economies are eager customers for the inexpensive fuel. World coal consumption is expected to rise at an average rate of 1.3 percent per year through 2040, according to EIA. Republicans in Congress denounced the decision. "The administration's overreaching regulation will drive up energy costs and threaten jobs and electric reliability," say Representatives Fred Upton and Edward Whitfield. "We cannot allow E.P.A.'s aggressive regulatory expansion to go unchecked. We will continue our oversight of the agency and our efforts to protect American families and workers from E.P.A.'s onslaught of costly rules."
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(Score: 2) by Covalent on Thursday May 01 2014, @03:57PM
The US (and the rest of the world) needs to get serious about CO_2 emissions...and fast. There is a real possibility that huge portions of Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Manhattan will be uninhabitable / under water in a surprisingly short period of time (the lifetime of the babies living there currently). The EPA currently estimates about 2.3 feet sea level rise in New York City by 2100*. That equates to millions of people that will have to relocate from incredibly productive, vibrant, and valuable areas. Add the other cities and low-lying areas, and just that one economic impact is enough to justify massive changes right now.
Add to that weather changes in prime farming areas, stronger hurricanes, extinctions (particularly in fisheries), etc. and you've got an enormously compelling financial reason to act quickly and decisively.
So if you can't get behind climate policy reform for political or moral reasons, let the almighty dollar help: Our government will have to spend TRILLIONS of dollars relocating / securing land from the ever-encroaching ocean. Or they could start spending billions now to mitigate (or maybe even prevent) the damage.
Note: It could be MUCH worse...worse case scenarios put 6 feet of water in Manhattan.
You can't rationally argue somebody out of a position they didn't rationally get into.
(Score: 3, Insightful) by Teckla on Thursday May 01 2014, @04:57PM
With 7 billion humans on this planet, all wanting to improve their quality of life, even if it's at the expense of their neighbor, and hundreds of countries, each with different laws and receptiveness when it comes to curbing CO2 emissions, it seems excessively unlikely that we'll get CO2 emissions under control merely because it's the right thing to do.
I'm hanging what little hope I have on new technology making burning coal expensive and obsolete by comparison. It seems like our only hope...
(Score: 1) by GmanTerry on Thursday May 01 2014, @05:41PM
...which points to the REAL problem facing the world. CO2 emissions are a problem but tackling that will not solve the overlying problem. Humans have become a virus on this planet. There are just too many people. The way to fix CO2 and almost every other problem facing mankind is to start making a serious effort to adjust the human population. I can hear the cries of racism and ethnic cleansing but the population will double again in 40 years. This cannot continue. The quality of life will become so poor that there will be endless wars and death in the fight for survival and resources. Is religion the reason no one will discuss or even acknowledge this? People are the problem. Reduce the population and the problems will also be reduced.
Since when is "public safety" the root password to the Constitution?
(Score: 1) by Tramii on Thursday May 01 2014, @05:57PM
So, how do you propose we reduce the world's population?
Seriously, I'd love to hear a fair/reasonable solution.
(Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01 2014, @06:42PM
Sterilize the poor. If you don't think its reasonable, its because you're not rich, and would be one of the unwashed masses facing sterilization, so your personal bias prevents you from seeing its benefits.
(Score: 2, Funny) by GeminiDomino on Thursday May 01 2014, @06:44PM
Step 1: Export the US "healthcare" system.
"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
(Score: 3, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Thursday May 01 2014, @07:02PM
This is a difficult problem, but let me say this as an intentionally child-free individual:
Step 1: would be to stop glorifying parenthood as the pinnacle of human achievement (it isn't, it's just some biology and chemistry and any idiot can do it), and to stop hassling those who choose to be child-free. The baby pressure is high in the late 20s and early 30s, but by the mid-40s, everyone gives up. Instead of pushing all the bullshit pressure to have kids, people should respect the decisions of those who choose against it. I have never in my life regretted my decision and my life is better for it. Plus, I could burn barrels of heavy crude in my back yard everyday for the rest of my life and come out carbon negative.
Step 2: incentivize child-free status -- it doesn't have to be a lot, but maybe a $500 tax credit each year that a person doesn't breed.
Step 3: Make it not OK to discriminate in the many subtle ways child-free people are discriminated agains. For example, breeders get lots of leeway for being late and missing work because their sprog has the sniffles. You know who picks up that slack? The child-free people -- obviously our time is not worth much because we don't have kids. Right -- my time is incredibly valuable to me and it is as important as a breeder's time.
Step 4: A reality show featuring the child-free life would be good. People don't have a frame of reference for being child-free and it should be presented in a positive light. Not the usual disparaging "you're so selfish" BS -- truth is, it is the breeders who are selfishly destroying the planet. I'm making it better for your kids, so rather than judge me, you should thank me.
(Score: 2) by velex on Thursday May 01 2014, @10:42PM
I like those ideas. Personally, I'd make everyone's taxes about the equivalent of someone with 1 child and put additional taxes on having more than 2 children. I'd also eliminate having children as a way to get onto entitlement programs (food stamps, subsidized housing, and especially cash hand-outs). (Of course, to be fair, we'd need to somehow make sure that just about every last teenage girl is on the pill until she's 25 and knows wtf she's doing.)
It amazes me how hung up people get about having grandkids. Hmm... wait... I think one problem just solved the other. He's what we need. Got a case of somebody with a womb who can't understand why come [sic] she keeps getting pregnant? Got an couple who are infuriated with their son or daughter for murdering their unconceived grandkids? Adopt-a-grandparent!
(Score: 1) by GmanTerry on Thursday May 01 2014, @09:28PM
For one, I would make it an open discussion. Eduction is the key. Turn today's enviromental activists into people with a wider view. We don't really have Earth Day to "Save the Planet". We do it to save humans. Lets stop making population control a taboo subject and discuss it in an intelligent fashion. The resoures of this small planet are limited. How about suggesting that we push towards zero growth? Every family has 2 children. What's wrong with that?
Since when is "public safety" the root password to the Constitution?
(Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Thursday May 01 2014, @06:05PM
I agree, and you may be pleased to learn there are organizations and governments working diligently around the clock to accomplish this -- indirectly. I have become kind of a fan of Hans Rosling [wikipedia.org], who has done a ton of data analysis and concluded that the population crisis is not nearly as bad as it looks. I'd encourage you to check out this 14-minute video [gapminder.org]. He also has a longer one [gapminder.org] that I haven't taken time to watch yet.
[Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
(Score: 2, Insightful) by kwerle on Thursday May 01 2014, @06:22PM
You just mentioned the solution. It ain't ideal, but it's the only one we'll get.
(Score: 2) by tathra on Thursday May 01 2014, @06:39PM
the population isnt going to continue growing exponentially. as countries industrialize and the quality of life increases, there is less desire to have more children since child mortality rates decrease, life expectancy increases, and children become more 'costly' [wikipedia.org] (see demographic transition [wikipedia.org]).
i think the estimates i've seen say world population will stabilize around 9-10 billion, with basically all of the growth occurring in "third-world" countries as they industrialize, while other countries will see their population decline. i'm not sure if anybody's really considered the consequences of china's "one child" policy combined with its "boys only" informal policy, but without girls their population will be greatly affected; there's also japan, which has far more elderly than young, so they might be headed for a population crash as well.
(Score: 1) by hoochiecoochieman on Friday May 02 2014, @11:33AM