Jul 25 2016

Response: What’s the deal with the Clean Power Plan?

This is a neat article, Holly, and it’s funny because there’s a lot of overlap between this and the one I just wrote about the RNC’s recently released environmental platform. After reading up some more on this debate, it amazes me how so much of the power and control in this country’s judicial system is achieved through lawsuits and stalling.

 

A new point that I’d like to bring into consideration is the fact that out of the 24 states suing, the ones at the forefront of this case are also the ones that produce the highest amounts of coal, and CO2, in the country. The case is called “State of West Virginia, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al.,” after all, and West Virginia is the nation’s 2nd largest coal producer, accounting for 11%. The main power—pun intended—behind this suit comes from those who are litigating as petitioners. Those petitioning against it are almost all hiding behind the guise of trade associations that they are members of. What happens is, the power companies become members of various trade associations that lobby on their behalf, and their membership does not have to be made public. So when those associations petition the courts, their funding comes from the countless power companies privately associated with them.

It’s a legal swamp that’s being plunged into—the case is the consolidation of 38 separate cases—and some that belong to trade associations, such as Dominion Energy, have actually voiced support for the CPP. Although Dominion is one of the large producers of fossil fuels, it also seems to be gearing for a shift toward renewable alternatives. They were, after all, the ones who provided the majority of the funding for Jennette’s Pier’s wind turbine project. While their renewable initiatives are likely rooted in self-interest, it is a promising sign when large power companies start to move toward the bandwagon of cleaner alternatives. The day that companies realize that coal is more of a financial risk than investment and renewable energy is an advantageous side to be on, is the day that we will start a global transition to clean energy.

Because of how we are set up democratically, our courts allow (ideally) for everyone to be heard equally. The problem with this is that groups with access to exorbitant resources manage to overpower and stifle those they don’t agree with, thus trampling on their right to be heard, but all 100% legally. Hopefully, when the court hears oral arguments starting September 27th, 2016, the voices of reason will be heard just as clearly as the voices behind pollution.

 

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