apo Kavanaugh’s views on EPA’s climate authority and Kavanaugh's other dangerous assault - on the environment? refer. Spoiler: I have little new to say. This post is, of course, occaisioned by West Virginia v. EPA. You may wish to read SCOTUSblog's take. Reading the opinion and dissent, my impression is that both sides seem to be somewhat losing patience with each other.

To recap my opinions: which way to decide this is a matter of interpretation; either way is defensible; overall I'm inclined to agree with the majority.

The Agency ultimately projected, for instance, that it would be feasible to have coal provide 27% of national electricity generation by 2030, down from 38% in 2014

The judgement doesn't make much of this, but I would: the much-vaunted plan was shite to begin with. It aimed to get coal down to 27% by 2030. And by 2022, without the plan in place, coal is... 22%. So what was all the fuss about? The plan was totally pointless. The idiot govt should just stop this nonsense.

Absurd US Supreme Court decision leaves climate leadership in limbo?

From a twit by Mann, this piece by Trenberth, who really should know better. But, as roughly typical of that-kind-of-viewpoint, worth a breakdown. Calling the decision absurd is just wrong. KT leads with "As an expert on the science of climate change..." but hasn't realised that is irrelevant; the science wasn't an issue, as it wasn't in Alsup. He then mixes it up with "The decision is designed to tie the hands of EPA scientists to fight pollution and to protect air, water and our families from the climate crisis" but that isn't really true either. The EPA retains all those "ordinary" powers; what it doesn't get it power to regulate CO2, unless congress clearly states that it should.



Phil said...

A feared plan that never took effect may well have the effect of being in place.

Just by being feared.

Natural gas price fell more than expected, and much of the reduction in coal usage was replaced by natural gas. This is a one time limited sized reduction in carbon release.

I don't read much into the faster than forecast reduction in coal use. Should I?

Mark B said...

Coal usage went down because we got lucky and a cheaper replacement came along in the form of fracked natural gas. Probably coal would have gone down more had the EPA policy been put into effect.

Whatever one thinks of the Supreme Court's ruling and the proposed EPA policy, "getting lucky" is probably a sub-optimum plan to mitigate climate change, but it's about all that's been tried so far.

Anonymous said...

"The EPA retains all those "ordinary" powers; what it doesn't get it power to regulate CO2, unless congress clearly states that it should"

Just to be clear: SCOTUS didn't say that EPA can't regulate CO2, only that EPA can't regulate outside the fenceline of an individual power plant, rather than treating the grid as a system that could be regulated as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with all the recent controversial decisions. This may be the one I disagree with least - I'm not sufficiently versed to really opine on the in-the-fenceline/out-of-the-fenceline question, but generally, I think that the Clean Air Act was intended to be capacious, and that if Congress doesn't like what EPA is doing, Congress could over-rule the agency, rather than having EPA have to go to Congress every time it wants to try something a bit outside of the box.

William M. Connolley said...

> Congress could...

I discussed that in the linked post.

So: Congress could pass a law saying it does cover CO2; or one saying it doesn't (FWIW I don't believe the "every time it wants to try something a bit outside of the box" argument; the EPA can and does do little things; this is a major item not clearly in the box). Either way would end the need for interpretation and the ambiguity. But Congress has chosen to do neither. Nor do I see any real discussion of Congress stepping up to the plate on this issue; perhaps because it is so obvious that it won't. But it is certainly what the Supremes say they want Congress to do.

Phil said...

In theory, Congress could pass a law regulating CO2.

In practice, the House could pass such a law.
In practice, the Senate will not pass such a law.

The Senate is controlled by the small States with tiny populations. About 5.6% of voters have 42 votes in the Senate, enough to block any such law.

Phil said...


"It has long been painfully obvious that voters are reluctant to accept even small short-run costs in the interest of averting long-run disaster. This is depressing, but it’s a fact of life, one that no amount of haranguing seems likely to change. This is why I’ve long been skeptical of the position, widely held among economists, that a carbon tax — putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions — has to be the central plank of climate policy. It’s true that emission taxes are the Econ 101 solution to pollution, but realistically they just aren’t going to happen in America."

William M. Connolley said...

That's a fairly std.viewpoint; it is what you say if you want regulation. And I think all the demonising Manchin is silly and unthinking.

As to taxes versus subsidies: it is all money. Somehow political discourse persuades the idiot public that subsidies are free, which people like to hear.

Krugman doesn't even begin to address criticism of Biden's BBB, or why people might have genuine reasons to dislike it; see-also Book Review: The Righteous Mind.

William M. Connolley said...

Sadly, the Libs are also opposed, though for different reasons.

Phil said...

Manchin is an interesting piece of work. I suspect he wants the demonising, as it may well help him to get re-elected. Consider his State's politics.

I wrote a long discussion on why subsidies are a lower cost way to get the same impact, and deleted it. You should know that I'm not "the idiot public" thinking that "subsidies are free".

Krugman isn't debating. Sorry he has his own thoughts.

Phil said...

A carbon tax isn't politically possible.

So how close to the PT do we get?

Probably needs less carbon as the Sun is hotter now.

Phil said...

Now Manchin comes back to an agreement.

Right after the Republicans allowed passage of another bill, with broad support in both parties. And now the Republicans are crying because they were threatening to block the other bill for force no action on climate. Which Machin was blocking for a while. Just long enough for the other bill to pass.

Amusing. This might have been a different game than first appeared.