With many state legislative seasons wrapping up around the country, there’s one crucial question that lawmakers should ask themselves before going home: Why should my state continue working on implementation plans for a federal Power Plan that the Supreme Court has halted?
In February, the Supreme Court issued an unprecedented “stay” on Obama’s power plan, which if implemented would have stripped states of their constitutional rights to decide how power is produced in their states and resulted in harsh economic costs. The stay effectively tells states that they should put their pen downs on implementation plans until such time as the legality of the rule is determined in the courts – a ruling that won’t take place until 2017 and more likely at the later date of 2018.
This is a fortunate development for Americans everywhere as the plan is guaranteed to debilitate state economies and harm ratepayers through dramatically higher electricity rates. That’s because the regulation is specifically designed to force states to rely on more expensive, less reliable fuel sources to generate the base-load electricity currently provided by coal. With coal taken out of the energy mix, the resulting shockwaves will shake the foundation of the entire economy.
Despite these consequences and with a Supreme Court in place, some states are continuing to move forward with the implementation process. This is an exercise in futility as if the rule is ultimately overturned any state actions will be rendered moot.
We’ve seen firsthand the irreparable harm that can be caused when action is taken on a rule that is ultimately found flawed by the Supreme Court. Last year, the Supreme Court remanded the Obama Administration’s “MATS” rule back to the lower court because EPA failed to consider the economic consequences as a result of the rule. The ruling mattered little, however, as in EPA’s own words: “this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance.”
Given this recent history, the challenges against the power plan and the stay, policymakers across the country would be wise to put their pencils down now and focus on more immediate issues rather than this legally flawed power plan which is years from seeing the light of day.