(Thomas Mitchell) – The Supreme Court today stopped the EPA from imposing strict limits on power plant emissions, mostly from coal-fired plants, because it failed to take into account the cost would hugely exceed any potential benefits.
But Nevada’s lawmakers have already jumped off this cliff, deciding to shut down all the state’s coal-fired power plants no matter what the cost to ratepayers and the economy.
Writing for the 5-4 majority today, Justice Antonin Scalia found the EPA acted unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to its regulations. He noted that the EPA claimed it had the power to act even if its rules caused more damage to the environment than they prevented.
“In accordance with Executive Order, the Agency issued a ‘Regulatory Impact Analysis’ alongside its regulation,” Scalia wrote. “This analysis estimated that the regulation would force power plants to bear costs of $9.6 billion per year. The Agency could not fully quantify the benefits of reducing power plants’ emissions of hazardous air pollutants; to the extent it could, it estimated that these benefits were worth $4 (million) to $6 million per year. The costs to power plants were thus between 1,600 and 2,400 times as great as the quantifiable benefits from reduced emissions of hazardous air pollutants.”
I wonder if that ratio could be applied to cost of SB123, which was passed by the 2013 Nevada Legislature? If I recall correctly, one of the arguments in support of SB123 was that the EPA would eventually shut down coal plants anyway.
Twenty-one states did not cave in, but successfully sued to stop the EPA rules. Hold onto your wallets, Nevadans, we are about to pay the price.
A version of this column was originally published on Mr. Mitchell’s blog.
Mr. Mitchell publishes the 4TH ST8 Blog at www.4thst8.wordpress.com.