As Christians we are called to be “in the world” but not “of the world.” We must swim against the tide. So who better to speak truth to power regarding the new carbon-dioxide ruling issued two weeks ago by the federal Environmental Protection Agency?
Not the business of the church, you say? Is protecting the poor the business of the church? Well, this ruling, if it stands, will harm every citizen of this nation, but the poor most of all.
Energy costs affect all of us, directly (utility bills and gasoline purchases) and indirectly (the energy component of the price of everything we buy). But they affect the poor most of all, because they spend a higher portion of their income on energy than the rest of us.
On March 27 the EPA announced unrealistic and unattainable limits on CO2 emissions from newly constructed coal-fired power plants. With the stroke of a pen and no input from Congress, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson outlawed coal-fired power as part of our future energy mix.
Regulations EPA has released in a continual stream over the last few years are already causing the shut-down of between 8 and 10 percent of existing coal fired power in this country. Closures already scheduled will likely increase costs to consumers by 14 percent and threaten the stability of the nation’s power grid. This new regulation will make new coal plant construction so expensive as to halt it completely. It threatens thousands of jobs in the coal, electric power, and transportation industries.
Even in a strong economy, that’s not good news; in our struggling economy, it’s devastating.
It also gives the lie to President Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. His EPA has essentially sworn off a natural resource this nation has in great abundance.
What are we supposed to gain? The regulation’s touted to reduce global warming, but Jackson herself admits it will do nothing to that end.
Contrary to the predictions of all the Henny-Penny climate models, global temperature stopped rising 17 years ago. That’s not just my opinion. Dr. Phil Jones, Director of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (of Climategate fame) and one of the lead scientists in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said two years ago there’d been no “statistically significant” warming since 1995. There’s been none in the intervening two years. That makes 17.
Why does that matter? Because alarmists like Jackson say rising CO2 causes dangerous warming. But CO2 went right on rising during all those 17 years. Consequence? CO2 probably didn’t cause much, if any, of the increase from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. Therefore, the models exaggerate warming from CO2, and it’s unlikely to cause dangerous warming in the future. Need for regulation? Gone.
By killing our use of our God-given coal, which provides nearly half of our nation’s electricity, the Obama administration has struck a body blow to our economy — without scientific justification.
And without Constitutional justification, too. By what enumerated power does a single executive agency have the authority to make such a sweeping decision about energy policy? Do we who are to be so badly injured have any say in this through our elected officials?
It was a breath of fresh air when last week the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, with a blistering opinion, demolished a ruling by the EPA that Texas had failed to comply with national air-quality standards. The court ruled that the EPA "failed to identify a single provision of the Act that Texas's program violated, let alone explain its reasons for reaching its conclusion." More courts should render lots more such decisions — including when the EPA gets dragged into court for its lawless, harmful, scientifically unjustified CO2 restrictions.
Creating draconian regulations to avoid a threat not verified by scientific observation does not show compassion. Instead, it directly harms the most economically vulnerable among us. Those commanded by Scripture to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10) should stand firmly opposed.
Chris Skates has 23 years’ experience in power plant chemistry and environmental issues. He is the author of the novel Going Green: For Some It Has Nothing To Do With the Environment and an adjunct scholar of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.
Publication date: April 11, 2012