Last month, the Supreme Court handed the coal mining industry and its workers a major victory by limiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its regulation of carbon emissions. The ruling has cheered conservatives and the mining industry in general, but the left is unhappy and wants countermeasures.
Casper Star-Tribune reported (June 30, 2022) that the coal industry and its supporters celebrated the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the 18 states that challenged the new plan of the Biden administration’s EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The 6–3 ruling sided with the coal industry’s interests in a fight that goes back to the Obama administration.
In 2015, the Obama administration announced its Clean Power Plan that would limit carbon emissions from power plants, including coal power plants, nationwide to combat the alleged climate change. Soon after it was announced, West Virginia sued the Obama administration over its Clean Power Plan which was an attack on the coal industry and more than a dozen other states joined the lawsuit. In February 2016, the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to stop the enforcement of the Clean Power Plan.
As the Trump administration took the government, the Obama administration’s plan was repealed. However, in January 2021, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Trump administration’s energy plan that was adopted instead of the Clean Power Plan. The EPA, now under Biden, presented a new plan of regulation of carbon emissions. The EPA plan was challenged by West Virginia along with 18 other states in October last year. On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled against the EPA, handing victory to the states and coal companies that had sued Biden’s EPA.
The left’s response to the recent legal victory for the coal industry is typical—concerned about climate change and hopeful that other factors continue to suppress coal mining for power generation. The Current (July 05, 2022) reported that environmental groups are urging the Democrat-led Congress to take action to fight for the climate; and of course, pouring more taxpayer money into the “clean energy” business.
They also called for the passage of legislative packages that would pour billions of dollars into clean energy.
Meanwhile, NPR (July 08, 2022) expressed hope for declining coal power generation because of lower costs of natural gas which they believe has less impact on the climate. It noted that the battle for coal power against the Obama-Biden administration’s plans for the energy sector is more about fighting government overreach than a victory for coal mining.
Robert Bryce’s opinion piece published in The Hill (July 07, 2022) sounds more realistic as it touches on various limitations of the renewable energy sources advocated by the left. Ranging from the local rejection of renewable power technologies to the inability of renewables to meet the soaring energy demands across the world, the article suggests counting on nuclear energy as a viable alternative.
…if we are to have any hope of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we have to embrace the atom.
However, Bryce doesn’t mention the major environmental risk of radioactive wastes generated by nuclear power plants. Nuclear reactors typically require high safety and security safeguards and safe disposal of radioactive waste is seen as a huge issue that has not been resolved yet.
Internationally, due to the soaring gas prices, coal is making a comeback in Europe. As reported in Grist (July 06, 2022), Germany and Netherlands are seeing a notable ramping up in coal power generation again since Europe’s conflict with Russia escalated over Ukraine. Owing to Biden’s inflation and the rise in gas prices in America, the legal victory for the coal industry comes at the right time to help meet energy requirements at home.