Untitled Rambling #12

We’re still doing this? Really?

I heard on the radio a day or two ago that the United States Supreme Court told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that by law they must actually do something. I guess the EPA has been dragging its heels since George Walker Bush was declared president in 2000, reluctant to take a stand on limiting greenhouse gases for some reason. This morning I read in Century of the Common Iowan that Alliant Energy is planning to build a coal plant in Marshalltown, Iowa.

The EPA hasn’t been regulating us for six years? We’re still building coal plants? Whaa…? In this day and age of shrinking ice caps, drowning polar bears, impending drought, increased storm activity and threat of rising sea levels we’re STILL building coal plants? Aren’t they, like, bad for our health?

(Position statement: I do believe the 99% of scientists who say global warming is real and is caused by human activity are right. But even if they’re wrong, it’s clear that the climate IS changing nonetheless, and we have the capacity to do something about it. What are the costs of rebuilding New Orleans? I dunno… But multiply that by thirteen zillion — if sea levels rise even a small amount we’ll be rebuilding Miami, New York, Boston, San Francisco… Just about every coastal city, town and village will be in trouble. There’s a community in Alaska that’s already relocating due to the changing climate eroding the foundations of their town into the sea. Even if humans aren’t the cause of the climate change, we do have the capacity to do something about it. Is that playing God, this mucking about with nature? No. If you’re going to use that argument to keep on polluting, you’re barking up the wrong tree. God gave us dominion over the animals – that means even if we choose to shoot ourselves in the collective foot, we’re supposed to protect the animals by saving their habitat, and He gave us the intellect to do so. To follow that argument through to it’s conclusion, it’s therefore a sin to pollute the environment.)

It’s time to do some research on this… I need to know more. And I just read that Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards denied today that he snorted his father’s ashes. That just HAS to tie into all this somehow, doesn’t it…?

What’s up with the EPA?

According to National Public Radio, the Bush administration’s argument was that the EPA did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and therefore could not require automobiles to reduce emissions. Several states and environmental groups sued the EPA, saying the EPA did indeed have that power. The Supreme Court ruled against the Bush administration.

It was kind of like when Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz learned she always had the power to go home. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency does, in fact, have the authority to regulate the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

The ruling paves the way for individual states to regulate greenhouse emissions from automobiles on their own.

I guess the anonymous person who wrote this article for the Clovis News Journal in New Mexico doesn’t like the ruling much, though:

Unfortunately, in Massachusetts et. al. v. Environmental Protection Agency et. al. a Supreme Court divided 5-4 engaged in precisely the kind of judicial activism that people on all sides of the ideological spectrum correctly deplore. In short, the popular passions around global warming carried the day, rather than calm legal precedent and thought.

The author then continues, pointing out that the Clean Air Act of 1970… “says the EPA administrator ‘shall by regulation prescribe (and from time to time revise) … standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant … which in his judgment cause, or contribute to air pollution’ coming from new cars.” The author’s argument being that the EPA administrator is not required by law to set standards for C02 emissions, and the Supreme Court is trying to push the administrator into making a judgment he doesn’t want to make.

I disagree. I think the Supreme Court did right. The EPA now has control over it’s mission once more (with congressional oversight, I’m sure), and individual states are therefore free to legislate the issue as the voters in those states see fit. It’s American democracy at its finest. As was said by New Jersey State Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson, this is “good news for New Jersey and other states trying to be proactive on climate change and greenhouse-gas emission reduction.” source

But what about the coal plant?

Oddly enough, the Supreme Court handed down two separate rulings on coal plants earlier this week as well as the EPA ruling. According to National Public Radio, the Supreme Court said that old coal fire power plants must install new pollution controls if they make big repairs and increase the pollution they release. The other ruling “blocked a Bush administration policy to permit coal mining companies to remove the top of mountains in Appalachia and deposit leftover rock in valley streams.”

Neither of these rulings directly affects the proposed new coal power plant here in Iowa, but the indirect ramifications are apparent — it’s going to be more expensive to run a coal plant in the future because the American people are calling a stop to the ruination of our environment.

Here’s a question for you. Does it make sense to build a new coal plant in a state that has no coal, but rather has an abundance of wind power available? Personally, I like clean air. And why pay another state for coal when we can hire Iowans to build wind turbines?

So what’s your point?

Simple. As I alluded to earlier, it seems that the nation is finally starting to realize that we’ve only been given one earth and we’d better take care of it. The Bush administration has been running roughshod over environmental restrictions for the last six years in the name of big business, but the people are speaking through both the legislative and judicial branches of government, saying that it’s time to stop with the pollution and time to start planning a viable future for our children. In the past few weeks, the Supreme Court has given the EPA it’s teeth (and dignity) back, and put a dent in using dirty old coal as energy.

The times, they are a-changing. And so, unfortunately, is the climate.

But what about Keith Richards?

I’m still not sure what to think about that. But I do know that Keith Richards is one of only a handful of people who would actually have to deny snorting his father’s ashes… There just has to be a tie-in there somewhere, I just can’t find it.

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